Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“The Laws of Nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This page lists all of the changes B&B has made to the Storytelling System’s ruleset. It follows the same layout as Vampire: The Requiem 2nd edition. Character Creation comes first, followed by Experience, followed by The Heart of the Beast, etc.
This page is also very large. Players can review the Recent Changes (House Rules) page to keep abreast of the latest rules changes without sifting through the entirety of this compendium.
|GM’s Note: This page is defunct and hasn’t been updated since 2019. Our group has switched to a new game system, the Decanter ruleset, and no longer plays with the Storytelling System. Google Analytics tells me that House Rules is still one of the most viewed pages on our wiki, so I am leaving it up in the event that other people enjoy perusing it.|
Chapter Three: Laws of the Dead
• Character Creation
• Experienced Kindred
• Experience Costs
• The Heart of the Beast
• Masks and Dirges
• Blood Potency and Generation
• Immortality, Injury, and Mortality
• Torpor and Final Death
• The Tricks of the Damned
• Blush of Life
• Kindred Senses
• The Cleansing
• Lost Visage
• Predatory Aura
• The Cycle of Death
• The Embrace
• Daysleep and Waking
• Properties of the Blood
• Blood Sympathy
• Vitae Addiction
• Blood Bonds
• Curses Great and Small
• Hated by Animals
• Clan Banes
• The Frenzy Roll
• The Frenzy
• Overcoming Frenzy
• A Stake to the Heart
• Blood Sorcery
• Mysteries of the Dragon
• Coil of the Ascendant
• Coil of the Voivode
Chapter Four: Rules of the Night
• Rolling Dice
• Roll Results
• Common Actions
• Beaten Down and Surrender
• Down and Dirty Combat
• Unarmed Combat
• Ranged Combat
• General Combat Factors
• Ranged Weapons Chart
• Melee Weapons Chart
• Injury and Healing
Appendix: The Living
Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook
• Infernal Engines: Dramatic Systems
Laws of the Dead
Changes to this process are detailed on the Character Creation Quickstart page.
The following rules are used for characters in place of the lump sums of bonus XP from the book.
Players have often asked how NPCs are built, so to clarify, these rules are for PCs. The GM uses them as rough guidelines rather than hard rules when designing NPCs. Very few NPCs adhere to these exact numeric values: the typical design process is to simply give them whatever feels most appropriate to their concepts.
|0+||6/4/3||11/7/4 (3 specialties)||3 (2 in-clan)||1||7||10|
|50+||7/5/3||14/9/5 (3/1 specialties)||6 (4 in-clan)||2||6||12|
|100+||8/6/4||17/11/6 (3/1 specialties)||10 (5 in-clan)||3||5||15|
|200+||9/7/5||20/13/7 (3/2 specialties)||14 (6 in-clan)||4||5||18|
|300+||10/8/6||23/15/8 (3/2 specialties)||17 (7 in-clan)||5||4||21|
|400+||11/9/7||26/17/9 (3/3 specialties)||20 (8 in-clan)||5||4||24|
|500+||12/10/8||29/19/10 (3/3 specialties)||22 (9 in-clan)||6||3||27|
|Every +200 years||+1/ +1/ +1||+3/ +2/ +1||Square root of age (+1 in-clan)||See below||3||+3|
Attributes: These Attributes include the +1 free dot from being a Embraced, which is assigned to a character’s Primary Attributes. Ghoul and mortal characters of the same age have a 5/4/3 array of Attributes instead of 7/5/3. Older ghoul characters use the 7/5/3 array at 50, 8/6/4 at 100, etc.
Specialties: Specialties separated by a / must be chosen from among a character’s Secondary or Tertiary Skills.
Disciplines: Ghouls receive 2/3rds as many Discipline dots as Kindred characters of equivalent age. Mortal characters obviously don’t receive any.
Merits: The values listed here are for NPCs. For PCs, they’re different.
0-year-old PCs have 10 Merit dots and 1 free dot in Generation. Ghoul and mortal PCs have 7 Merit dots.
50-year-old PCs have 10 Merit dots, 1 free dot each in Allies, Domain, Status (Camarilla), Status (Clan), Status (Covenant), and 2 free dots in Generation. Ghouls instead receive 12 Merit dots and none of those freebies.
100-year-old PCs have 10 Merit dots and 2 free dots each in Allies, Domain, Status (Camarilla), Status (Clan), Status (Covenant), and 3 free dots in Generation. Ghouls instead receive 15 Merit dots and none of those freebies.
Clans are Masquerade’s thirteen rather than Requiem’s five. Their clan Disciplines and banes are as follows below.
Credit goes to Dreaminggod of the Onyx Path forums for inspiration in many of these conversions.
Banes: Clan banes kick in at all Humanity levels, not just Humanity 6 and below.
Nicknames: assassins (warriors), Banu Hakim (the clan’s name for themselves), Clan of the Hunt, Children of Haqim (Western translation of their name), magi (sorcerers), saracens (archaic), scholars (viziers)
Disciplines (sorcerers): Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Dur-An-Ki), Obfuscate
Disciplines (viziers): Auspex, Majesty, Quietus Hematus
Disciplines (warriors): Celerity, Obfuscate, Quietus Cruscitus
Clan Bane: Assamites have two clan banes. The first is common to all Assamites and the second is determined by their caste.
• The Darkening Curse:
Assamites’ skin grows darker as they lose touch with humanity. Neonates are only slightly tan, while the eldest (or most monstrous) Children of Haqim are literally jet black. This causes them to treat their Humanity as 2 points lower for purposes of Social penalties against mortals.
Beat: The Assamite fails a roll due to their bane.
• The Mystic Curse (sorcerers):
Assamite sorcerers are beings bred of magic. The predatory aura of a Magus is exceptionally obvious and occult. Sorcerers cap all dice pools to hide themselves or conceal their true natures from other Kindred by their Humanity.
Beat: The Assamite is exposed at an inconvenient time.
• The Pedagogic Curse (viziers): The Beasts of Viziers demand thoroughness in all things. Note the Scholar’s highest Mental Skill. Whenever they gain an exceptional success using that Skill, including with Disciplines, roll their Humanity. On failure, the Assamite gains the Obsession Condition in association with that Skill. Usually this is temporary, but a dramatic failure might make the Condition persistent. If the character ever gains more dots in a different Mental Skill, the Obsession trigger shifts.
Beat: As detailed under Obsession.
• The Tremere Curse (warriors): Asssamite Warriors treat ingested Kindred vitae as poison with a Toxicity rating equal to its Blood Potency or (11 – the Assamite’s Humanity), whichever is higher. Additionally, Assamite Warriors gain no benefits from diablerie but suffer all of its drawbacks.
Beat: The Assamite takes damage from Kindred vitae.
Nicknames: agitators (archaic), hellenes (archaic, being “reclaimed”), hipsters (modern, sarcastic), the Learned Clan, philosopher-kings (archaic), punks (modern, derogatory), prometheans (archaic, being “reclaimed”), rebels (neutral), rabble (derogatory), zealots (archaic)
Disciplines: Celerity, Majesty, Vigor
Clan Bane (The Passionate Curse): Brujah have difficulty controlling their Beasts. Dice pools to resist frenzy are capped by a Rabble’s Humanity, nor may they spend Willpower to hold off frenzies. This bane does not apply to Riding the Wave. Additionally, a Brujah’s frenzies always last for a number of turns equal to their Blood Potency or (11 – Humanity), whichever is more.
Nicknames: charity childer (archaic, condescending/pitying), Clan Caine (recent, laughable/offensive to elders), freestylers (recent), mosquitoes (local to New Orleans, derogatory), orphans (pitying), panders (neutral, recent) scum (derogatory), trash (derogatory)
Disciplines: Caitiff may choose three Disciplines from the following list to have as in-clan: Animalism, Auspex, Celerity, Dominate, Majesty, Obfuscate, Resilience, Vigor. At least one of a Caitiff’s Disciplines must be a physical Discipline. This choice is made during character creation and cannot be changed once made. Caitiff who are Embraced in-game may have some or all of their Disciplines chosen by the Storyteller.
Clan Bane: Caitiff have no inherent clan bane. However, Kindred society disdains them for their thin and clanless blood, and they are frequent targets of pogroms and discrimination. The Trash have to work twice as hard as other Kindred to gain respect and may not begin a chronicle with any dots in Status.
Followers of Set
Nicknames: Clan Mekhet (recent), cottonmouths (local to New Orleans), the Clan of Faith, the Ministry of Set (recent), serpents, Setites, the Snake Clan
Clan Bane (Aten’s Curse): Followers of Set are extremely vulnerable to the sun. When calculating damage from sunlight, treat a Serpent’s Humanity as two dots lower. In addition, a Setite’s dice pools are capped by their Humanity when they are exposed to extremely bright light.
Beat: The Setite takes extra sunlight damage or fails a roll due to their bane.
Nicknames: animals (archaic), barbarians (archaic), the Beast Clan, bêtes (archaic), the Clan of the Beast, ferals (archaic, being “reclaimed”), outcasts (derogatory), outlanders (neutral), outlaws (archaic), savages (archaic), wolf’s-heads (archaic), wolves (neutral), strays (condescending)
Disciplines: Animalism, Protean, Resilience
Clan Bane (The Bestial Curse): Gangrel cannot hide their bestial natures. Whenever a Gangrel frenzies or fails a detachment roll, they cap Intelligence- and Manipulation-based dice pools by their Humanity for the remainder of the scene as they sink to an increasingly feral state of mind. Additionally, they gain the Beast Mark Condition. On a dramatic failure, or if the Gangrel would gain a second Beast Mark while bearing a first, they also gain the Persistent Beast Mark Condition.
Nicknames: The Clan of Night, corsairs (archaic), magisters (archaic), keepers, the Night Clan, shadows, tenebri (archaic)
Disciplines: Dominate, Obtenebration, Vigor
Clan Bane (The Hollow Curse): Lasombra have no reflections. Characters unaware of the keeper’s true nature make a reflexive Perception roll each scene contested by (Lasombra’s Humanity) dice to notice their missing reflection. To hunters, it’s a dead giveaway as to what the vampire is. Ordinary mortals subconsciously choose to ignore this oddity but are unnerved by it, causing the Lasombra to suffer their Humanity dots as a cap on all Social dice pools against them (except for Intimidation). This penalty lasts for the remainder of the scene.
Lasombra also may not choose to appear normally in cameras, photographs, films, and other forms of media. Their Lost Visage is always in effect.
Beat: The Lasombra fails a roll or is inconvenienced by their bane.
Nicknames: cassandras (archaic, being “reclaimed”), the Clan of the Moon, dervishes (recent), freaks, inmates (modern), jesters (archaic), knights of the moon (archaic), kooks (modern), lunatics, madmen (archaic), malks (modern), the Moon Clan, oracles, seers, visionaries (recent)
Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate
Clan Bane (The Moonstruck Curse): Malkavians are incurably insane. Every Kook has a single Mental Persistent Condition that can never be resolved. The Malkavian rolls Humanity to resist its effects instead of Resolve + Composure. If the Condition allows characters to resist its effects by spending Willpower, the Malkavian must roll Humanity whenever they do so. On a failure, the Willpower point is wasted to no effect.
Nicknames: carnies, the Clan of the Hidden, crawlers (archaic), haunts, the Hidden Clan, hives, horrors, kapos, lepers (archaic), priors (archaic), nossies (modern), orloks, scabs, sewer rats, vagrants
Disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Vigor
Clan Bane (The Lonely Curse): Nosferatu are hideously ugly and automatically fail all Social rolls except Intimidation against mortals who can see their true forms. Even when the Sewer Rats are disguised or occluded (such as through Obfuscate), they treat their Humanity as two dots lower when interacting with mortals. At the GM’s discretion, a rare few mortals may be sufficiently accepting (or simply familiar with the supernatural) for this penalty not to apply.
Beat: The Nosferatu fails a roll or is otherwise inconvenienced by their monstrous appearance.
Nicknames: charlatans (archaic), criminals (derogatory), gypsies (derogatory), hundred-mask clowns (in Asia), deceivers, rakshasas (archaic), seekers, shapers, tricksters, the unwelcome (archaic, derogatory), vagabonds (derogatory)
Disciplines (Brahmin jati): Auspex, Chimerstry, Resilience
Disciplines (Kshatriya jati): Animalism, Chimerstry, Vigor
Disciplines (Vaishya jati): Animalism, Chimerstry, Resilience
Clan Bane (The Svadharmic Curse): Choose a single personality trait, such as kleptomania or defending the weak. Whenever the Ravnos turns down an opportunity to fulfill their svadharma, roll (11 – Humanity) as a dice pool. The Ravnos loses one point of Willpower per success. If this would reduce their below 0 Willpower, they are also considered to have failed a detachment roll at their current Humanity level.
Beat: Fulfilling the Ravnos’ svadharma causes problems for them.
Nicknames: cyclops, furies (antitribu), unicorns (archaic), soulstealers, soulsuckers (modern), soulthieves
Disciplines: Auspex, Majesty, Obeah
Clan Bane (The Lamb’s Curse): Salubri are shepherds of the kine and find it difficult to feed from unwilling vessels. When a Salubri attempts to do so, roll (11 – Humanity) as a dice pool: the Salubri loses one point of Willpower per success. If the Salubri would be reduced below 0 Willpower, they gain no Vitae from that vessel no matter how much blood they consume. Vampiric blood and animal blood are exempt from this restriction. Victims enthralled by Majesty count as willing vessels.
Beat: The Salubri loses Willpower or goes hungry at an inconvenient time.
Nicknames: Giovanotti (archaic), necromancers, necro-incestuous mafiosos (modern, derogatory), nigrimancers (archaic), Venetians, young ones (archaic)
Disciplines: Blood Sorcery (Necromancy), Dominate, Vigor
Clan Bane (Lamia’s Curse): The Sangiovannis’ bite is excruciatingly painful. Whenever a Sangiovanni feeds, roll their Humanity as a dice pool. On a failure, the Sangiovanni uses the Assault even if they were attempting to use the Kiss.
Beat: The Sangiovanni’s bane causes a problem or inconvenience for them.
Nicknames: aesthetes (archaic), arikelites (archaic), artisans (archaic), artists, the Clan of the Rose, degenerates (derogatory), divas, epicureans (archaic), harlots (archaic, derisive), hedonists (archaic, disparaging), perverts (modern, derisive), the Rose Clan, roses, sensates (archaic), succubi, torries, vanitas (archaic)
Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Majesty
Clan Bane (The Rapturous Curse): Toreador are obsessed with beautiful things. Whenever a Toreador is confronted with a remarkable stimulus, roll Humanity. On failure, the Toreador becomes lost in it and gains the Enraptured Condition. The player should pick a general trigger (paintings, live performances, beautiful people, etc.) that always affects their character, although other stimuli may still prompt Humanity rolls.
Nickname: blood witches (archaic), grayfaces (modern), hemetics, thaumaturges, transgressors (archaic, derisive), usurpers (archaic, derisive), spellbinders, warlocks, wizards
Disciplines: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Thaumaturgy), Dominate
Clan Bane (The Yielding Curse): Tremere dependency on blood is even more pronounced than that of other Kindred. If a Warlock ever spends Willpower to resist a blood bond, roll their Humanity.
Dramatic Failure: The Willpower point is wasted, and the Tremere becomes two steps blood bonded, rather than one.
Failure: The Willpower point is wasted and the blood bond progresses normally.
Success: The Tremere can roll to resist developing a blood bond at a -2 penalty.
Exceptional Success: The Tremere can roll to resist developing a blood bond at no penalty.
Additionally, all neonate Tremere are forced to drink the (transubstantiated) blood of the Council of Seven soon after their Embrace, and are considered to be under a first stage blood bond towards all clanmates with higher Blood Potency than themselves.
Nickname: carpathians (archaic), the Clan of Shapers, dragons (archaic, “stolen” by the Ordo Dracul), draculas (modern, “stolen” by the Ordo Dracul), fiends (archaic and modern), skinscapers (modern)
Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, Vicissitude
Clan Bane (The Hospitable Curse): Tzimisce cannot enter private dwellings uninvited. If they do, they cap all Discipline dice pools by their Humanity and treat the dwelling’s interior as if it were sunlight, but take lethal damage instead of aggravated damage and bashing damage instead of lethal damage. This damage cannot be healed for as long as the Tzimisce remains inside the dwelling.
Beat: The Tzimisce takes damage from entering a dwelling uninvited or fails a roll due to their bane.
Nickname: ambitiones (archaic), the Clan of Kings, blue bloods, the Kingship Clan, one percenters (recent), patricians (archaic), preppies (modern, derisive), snobs (derisive), tyrants (derisive), warlords (archaic)
Disciplines: Dominate, Majesty, Resilience
• Clan Bane (The Epicurean Curse): Ventrue have rarified tastes and have difficulty feeding from vessels that do not match their preferred criteria, such as Catholics, police officers, or children. When feeding from a vessel that doesn’t match their preferences, Blue Bloods gain no nourishment from the first few Vitae taken. This amount is equal to (11 – Humanity) and may be divided between multiple vessels fed from during the same scene. Vampiric blood is exempt from this restriction, but animal blood is not. Additionally, Ventrue take a penalty on hunting rolls modified by their Humanity.
Beat: The Ventrue fails a hunting roll due to their bane or goes hungry at an inconvenient time.
Feeding restrictions of various canon Ventrue NPCs have included:
• Vietnam War veterans
• Residents of Atlanta actually born in the city
• Beautiful, blue-eyed, pure-blooded Italian women
• Individuals who are in love but not married
• The Ventrue’s own mortal family members
• IRS agents and other government financial lackeys
• Individuals the Ventrue has sparred with
• Impoverished graduate students
See this page for more information about how Experience is earned and spent.
Experience costs are increased to the following rates.
|Trait||XP Cost (1-3 dots)||XP Cost (4 dots)||XP Cost (5 dots)|
XP costs are cumulative. For example, buying a Skill at 5 dots costs 13 XP (2 XP each for the first three dots, 3 XP for the fourth dot, and 4 XP for the fifth dot).
Specialties: Applying more than one Specialty to the same Skill costs a cumulative +1 Experience. Example: A character with Firearms 3 buys a Specialty in Rifles for 1 Experience. Buying a Specialty in Pistols costs 2 XP, and buying a Specialty in SMGs costs 3 XP.
6+ Dot Traits: PCs are unlikely to ever obtain these. If they do, we’ll work out how XP costs are handled then.
Beats are awarded on an ad hoc basis for players accomplishing goals, facing dramatic setbacks, coming up with clever plans, and otherwise making for an interesting and dramatic game session.
Players may accept a Beat to turn a failure into a dramatic failure, a success into a failure, or an exceptional success into a success.
Players may accept two Beats to turn a success into a dramatic failure or an exceptional success into a failure.
Players may accept three Beats to turn an exceptional success into a dramatic failure.
Players may choose to give their vampire characters a Virtue and Vice instead of a Mask and Dirge. Players may also choose to give their vampire, ghoul, or mortal characters a Nature and Demeanor.
Fixating upon one person is not healthy. Normal humans cultivate a diverse range of social relationships.
Vampires have a number of Touchstones equal to one-half their Humanity dots, rounded up, instead of just one. Vampires who end a story arc with fewer than this many Touchstones face a detachment roll at their current Humanity level. NPCs may take banes against this, but PCs may not (as the GM wishes to keep interaction with ordinary mortals a vital part of the game).
Human Contact: Touchstones are only Touchstones if they are interacted with. Characters who go for a variable length of time without interacting with mortals face a detachment roll (said interactions must be “real,” not simply feeding on, terrorizing, or manipulating them). This is already on the “hierarchy of sins” list but I am reprinting it here for convenience.
• Humanity 9-10: One night (or single chapter) without human contact.
• Humanity 7-8: One week (or two chapters) without human contact.
• Humanity 5-6: Two weeks (or three chapters) without human contact.
• Humanity 3-4: One month (or story arc) without human contact.
• Humanity 1-2: One year (or two story arcs) without human contact.
Ghoul Touchstones: Ghouls can be Touchstones, but this rarely works out well. The artificial love engendered by the blood bond and the nature of the ghoul’s addiction inherently degrades the relationship and makes it one of master and slave (or at least junkie and supplier). Detachment rolls are likely to happen aplenty, which makes ghouls problematic Touchstones for higher-Humanity vampires. Still, more than one vampire has ghouled friends, lovers, and family who they couldn’t bear to let go.
Kindred Touchstones: Other vampires can also be Touchstones, in much the same way that one recovering addict can look towards their AA or NA sponsor for support and inspiration. There’s a catch to this: if they relapse, it’s harder for you to stay clean too. The vampire must make detachment rolls for any inhumane acts committed by a Kindred Touchstone as if they had committed the acts themselves (although they have to be aware of the acts to do this). Other vampires do not make good Touchstones. However, it’s also a lot harder for them to die. Kindred Touchstones are usually tied to elders who are too jaded and world-weary to form lasting human connections, but still find inspiration from how other vampires relate to humanity (think Marius and Lestat). These Touchstones are almost always younger and higher-Humanity vampires.
Player characters cannot take ghouls or vampires as Touchstones without permission. The point of Touchstones is to keep mortal relationships meaningful.
Losing Touchstones: Characters don’t automatically lose Touchstones upon hitting specific Humanity levels. Vampires who alienate their Touchstones do so as a result of specific actions.
Detachment Bonus: Touchstones do not confer a permanent +2 bonus on detachment rolls. Instead, after a vampire interacts with a Touchstone, they gain a +2 bonus on their single next detachment roll. They can re-gain the bonus by interacting with the Touchstone again.
The Blood seethes at the core of every vampire. Not quite sentient, but far from mindless, it prods and cajoles its host into actions unthinkable to mortals. It can yield immense power, but sooner or later, someone always pays a price.
All vampires gain their unholy prowess from the Blood, but not all Blood is equal. The closer a vampire is to their mythic progenitor Caine, the greater the potential of their vitae. Vampires talk of generation, with Caine (and perhaps Lilith) as the mythic progenitor of the first generation. Following a vampire’s Embrace, they rise from death one generation higher—one generation weaker—than their sire. Thus the Antediluvians, childer of childer of Caine, comprise the third generation, their childer becoming the fourth generation. A vampire’s Embrace sets their generation. Only through the forbidden act of diablerie, by consuming the Blood and very spirit of another vampire, can it be changed.
A vampire’s generation does not necessarily indicate their age. An elder might have sired a vampire of the tenth generation when Columbus sailed; a methuselah could have begotten a vampire of the sixth generation last year.
Even within a generation, the potency of the Blood varies. As the years pass by, the Blood thickens and matures within the limits of a vampire’s generation. Being Embraced by a powerful sire or braving the foul amaranth provide shortcuts to this power. But with increased potency comes also a price—you require more potent blood to sustain you, and Caine’s curses also become more evident.
Time and Blood Potency
Blood Potency increases as a vampire ages. Consult the below table to determine a character’s typical Blood Potency. These times are approximations, not hard measurements. A 5th-generation Cainite could have Blood Potency 8 but “only” been Embraced 1,231 years ago. Especially intense experiences or exposure to extremely potent Blood can also speed the process, and lack of either can stymie it. Torpor can also make a vampire’s Blood Potency go down. See the torpor rules for further information on torpor’s effects on Blood Potency.
Player characters may spend Experience to purchase Blood Potency dots up to one dot higher than the maximum allowed by their age (but not generation). For example, a ninth-generation vampire could buy Blood Potency 4 once they were 100 years old, but a tenth-generation vampire could not (as Blood Potency 3 is the maximum allowed by their generation). Many vampires do not have higher than normal Blood Potency for their age, so this should have appropriate conceptual justification for PCs: a nonassertive vampire who lets themselves be used as a perpetual doormat to others should have typical (and possibly even below average) Blood Potency for their age.
|Generation||Maximum Blood Potency||Years to Reach|
|13th||1, and can only store 9 Vitae||0|
Determining Player Characters’ Generation
Generation is an odd duck as a stat. It determines how powerful characters get to be, but it provides no actual power by itself (one could attach mechanical benefits to a vampire’s generation, but I’ve decided against that for a number of reasons). So how do you “price” generation and come up with an equitable system to determine whether PCs get to be 6th or 13th? Initially, I split Blood Potency’s 5 XP cost between Blood Potency (reduced to 4 XP) and a Generation Merit that provided no mechanical benefit, but that was as stupid as it sounds. Instead, I’ve looked at the ways that determining sires has already been handled in B&B and WF, and codified them into the below guidelines (plus a few additional ones). I know of other methods used by other gaming groups to determine a PC’s generation, but these are the methods that have worked for our games.
Beginning Mortal Characters: Under this method, PCs begin play as mortals. This could be for a series of year+ long story arcs or it could be as short as a single prelude. However long the PC gets played as a mortal, their actions earn the Embrace from whatever clan and sire the GM deems appropriate. Some PCs might end up 6th-generation Gangrel and others 13th-generation Tremere. (Lower-generation sires tend to be more selective in who they Embrace, but sometimes they’re less choosy or simply don’t get to choose.) Either way, generation costs nothing as a trait and ensuring parity between PCs isn’t a concern. If the chronicle isn’t intended to advance 50+ years of in-game time, generation is unlikely to have any mechanical effects anyway, as the PCs will not increase their Blood Potency through age.
Beginning Vampire Characters: Under this method, PCs begin play as vampires (they may or may not have a mortal prelude) and players get more input as to their clan and sire, which they typically work out OOC with the GM. This is what B&B has done for its ancilla PCs. The GM should determine a baseline power level (Blood Potency 1 for most neonate chronicles, Blood Potency 3 for B&B’s ancillae) and let PCs come from whatever generation is low enough to meet that power level. (If the game has PCs start at Blood Potency 2+, and if the GM is awarding the extra Blood Potency dot(s) for free, the GM may allow PCs who start at sufficiently high generation to begin play with an additional five Experiences per forfeited Blood Potency dot. For instance, a 12th-generation and Blood Potency 1 PC in a game of Blood Potency 3 ancillae could receive an additional 10 Experiences.)
Since players get input as to their Embrace, what’s to simply stop every player from pressing for a 4th-generation methuselah sire? Nothing, but that doesn’t mean the GM has to give them one. In Blood & Bourbon, if someone wants to be a 7th-generation Nosferatu, they are out of luck if the setting doesn’t have any 6th-generation Nosferatu who are plausible or narratively compelling sires to Embrace that PC. (Sires who don’t live in New Orleans usually don’t meet the “narratively compelling” prerequisite, although depending on the concept I might still allow it—see Jon for an example PC whose sire lives thousands of miles away.) Players and GMs should work out what’s best for the PC, the setting, the game’s story, and go from there. Ensuring parity between PC generations is a non-issue. If the chronicle doesn’t span 50+ years, generation is unlikely to provide any mechanical advantage.
Years-Spanning Chronicles: This is one type of chronicle where it is fairly likely to.
The GM determines PC sires and generations by whatever method they want (letting players pick, having PC in-game actions decide, some hybrid of both, whatever). As time progresses, PCs advance in Blood Potency at the normal rate. If a PC’s generation is too high for them to advance in Blood Potency, they gain an extra five Experiences.
Example: A GM is running a Dark Ages game with four PCs who are all Blood Potency 1 neonates. The chronicle’s first story takes place in 1197, and then after some downtime, jumps ahead to 1251 for the second story arc. The GM advances the PCs to Blood Potency 2. PCs finish the story, the chronicle has more downtime, and then picks up again for the third story arc in 1304. The PCs all advance to Blood Potency 3. When the fourth story arc in 1406 rolls around, three of the PCs (who are seventh, eighth, and eighth generation) advance to Blood Potency 4. One PC, however, is tenth generation, so their Blood Potency cannot increase any further. The GM gives them an extra five Experiences instead. While the player is not disadvantaged, the PC can certainly feel as if they are; and as the chronicle continues to advance over the centuries, one can start to see why diablerie is so tempting….
Animal Blood: Whenever a vampire with sufficiently high Blood Potency and low Humanity feeds on an animal, they gain no nourishment from the first few Vitae taken. Consult the following table for reference. These same numbers also apply as penalties on hunting rolls made against animals. If the vampire would need to drain more than 5 Vitae, they can no longer gain nourishment from animal blood.
|—||Humanity 6||Humanity 5||Humanity 4||Humanity 3||Humanity 2||Humanity 1||Humanity 0|
|Blood Potency 1||1||2||3||4||5||-||-|
|Blood Potency 2||2||3||4||5||-||-||-|
|Blood Potency 3||3||4||5||-||-||-||-|
|Blood Potency 4||4||5||-||-||-||-||-|
|Blood Potency 5||5||-||-||-||-||-||-|
Human Blood: Kindred with Blood Potency 6+ can feed on human vitae normally. Masquerade assumes a larger (and more powerful) number of active elders than Requiem does, and they are not portrayed as only being able to subsist on Kindred blood.
Vitae per Turn: Kindred can spend Vitae at the following modified rates. Bolded rates have been changed from the core rulebook.
|Blood Potency||Vitae/per Turn|
Aggravated Damage: Every point of aggravated damage imposes -1 on Social rolls except Intimidation until healed.
Bleeding: Kindred bleed when cut. This still does not equate with loss of Vitae, for the lost blood is fully inert.
Body Parts: Cutting off a vampire’s body parts causes the severed part to instantly revert to the vampire’s true age.
Dead Flesh: Kindred have ballistic armor ratings equal to their unmodified Stamina dots against firearms. This overlaps (does not stack) with the ballistic armor ratings of physical armor, though as ballistic armor it does stack with the general armor granted by Resilience. Resilience does not add to a vampire’s ballistic armor rating, as it already adds to general armor.
Example: A vampire with Stamina 2 has general armor 0 and ballistic armor 2, for armor 0/2. A vampire with Stamina 3 and Resilience 1 has general armor 1 and ballistic armor 3, for armor 1/3.
Destroyed vampires instantly disintegrate into ash, regardless of age. Severed body parts and extremities revert to the vampire’s chronological age.
Vampires are corpses. Most of the time, they look the part. They’re pale. They register no pulse. How much they look the part depends on how close they still are to mortality.
At Humanity 10, a vampire can taste and enjoy food and drink as if human, but must regurgitate it by dawn. The vampire can also enjoy sex as if human.
At Humanity 9, The vampire can taste and enjoy liquids and meats as if human, but must regurgitate them by dawn. Other solid foods taste terrible and cause violent, bloody vomiting within one turn per Stamina dot. The vampire can use Blush of Life to hold down such fare for one scene. They can also enjoy sex as if human.
At Humanity 8, the vampire can taste and enjoy wines and some other liquids as if human, but must regurgitate them by dawn. Other foods and liquids taste terrible and cause violent, bloody vomiting within one turn per Stamina dot. The vampire can use Blush of Life to hold down such fare for one scene. The vampire can still engage in sex but no longer finds it pleasurable.
At Humanity 7, the vampire can use Blush of Life to hold down food and drink for one scene. Otherwise, such fare causes violent, bloody vomiting within one turn per Stamina dot. The vampire can only engage in sex by using Blush of Life and does not find it pleasurable.
At Humanity 5-6, the cost of using Blush of Life increases to (8 – Humanity) Vitae. For vampires with low enough Blood Potency relative to their Humanity, this can actually mean that it takes multiple turns for them to will their corpse-like flesh into a semi-living state.
At Humanity 3-4, the vampire must roll Humanity whenever they use Blush of Life. On a failure, the power fails to activate and the Vitae cost is still expended. The vampire can try again on subsequent turns.
At Humanity 0-2, the vampire can no longer eat, drink, or engage in sex, even using Blush of Life.
Blush of Life, while active, negates the penalty to Social rolls against mortals from low Humanity.
Sex and Low-Humanity Vampires: Technically, a vampire can engage in sexual acts at any Humanity level, and without using Blush of Life. They just fail to show any signs of biological arousal: male Kindred are flaccid and cannot achieve erection, female Kindred do not become lubricated, etc. Clever Kindred can still fool partners into believing they are having intercourse with something other than a corpse, but most vampires would find such an experience highly distasteful.
Vampires do not automatically hear the heartbeats of characters who beat them on a contested Stealth vs. Perception roll.
A Taste for Blood
This power is revised as follows:
In addition to being able to smell blood and to identify and track with blood, Kindred discern subtle cues from blood they taste. The GM may call for A Taste of Blood rolls when PCs sample a particular vessel’s Vitae, but will not always do so. Players should roll for the power’s use themselves whenever they want to find out facts about a vessel’s blood.
Dice Pool: Wits + Composure. A Taste for Blood is a Perception roll, so characters with Auspex add their dots to the roll.
Action: Reflexive (though the act of obtaining a blood sample may be instant)
Dramatic Failure: The character reads the blood completely wrong and takes the Misinformed Condition.
Failure: The blood offers no insight.
Fail Forward: Your character discerns some details from the blood, but gets others wrong. They can find out any number of details about the blood (per “success” below), up to an amount equal to their Perception dice pool. For each detail requested, the Storyteller secretly rolls a die. On a 1-5, they answer with false information. On a 6-10, they answer with true information.
Success: Your character can discern details from the blood. For every success rolled, you can ask the GM to reveal one of the following details:
• If the blood is Kindred, ghoul, human, or something else. If the donor is something else, your character detects what it is if they’ve tasted that type of creature’s blood before.
• Blood Potency
• The number of steps removed the donor is in blood sympathy to another character whose blood your character tasted.
• If your character has tasted that donor’s blood before
• How long the blood has been out of the body
• Blood type
• Blood-borne diseases and poisons
• The presence of popular drugs
• What the donor ate recently
• Hormones in the bloodstream
• Some blood-based causes of death
• Similar details the GM approves
A Taste for Blood cannot detect a character’s generation or whether they have committed diablerie.
Characters can Fail Forward as described above if they still want to find out additional details about the blood. They still cannot ask more questions than their Perception dice pool by Failing Forward.
Exceptional Success: The character can discern an additional detail from the blood or take the Inspired Condition against the donor. The Storyteller may also volunteer information beyond the normal scope of A Taste for Blood, such as emotional state, generation, or whether the subject has committed (recent) diablerie—generally anything within the scope of Auspex 1.
Roll Modifiers: Shared blood sympathy with the donor (+ sympathy bonus), currently hungry (+2), hour-old blood (-1), hours-old blood (-2), day-old blood (-3), days-old blood (-4), week or more old (-5).
This ability is mentioned in the flavor section of the rulebook but not the crunch section. I reproduce it here for convenience.
Kindred are not recognizable in mirrors, cameras, photographs, films, etc. unless they want to be. It isn’t that they’re blurred images; rather, “The Beast knows precisely where to stand. A vampire is not a blurred mess in a photograph, but for some reason, never seems to look at the camera, or the flash smears the image, or it goes over- or under-exposed.” Kindred also leave no fingerprints, DNA traces, or other readily identifiable forensic evidence.
Sleeping, frenzying, and torpid Kindred are still subject to Lost Visage.
Kindred can forcefully suppress the effects of another Kindred’s Lost Visage for one scene with a successful predatory aura roll.
GM’s Commentary: Lost Visage is not a “get out of jail” free card. There are still plenty of ways for mortal police to cause problems for Kindred who haven’t left forensic evidence of their crimes, as several past PCs have learned to their chagrin. Rather, Lost Visage explains how Kindred are able to maintain the Masquerade at all in today’s age of omnipresent smartphones and surveillance technology.
Characters can spend a point of Willpower to heal an additional point of aggravated damage (in addition to its attendant Vitae cost) in a single day of rest. Example: A character with 3 aggravated damage could spend 2 Willpower and 15 Vitae to heal all of his aggravated wounds in a single day.
Kindred may not spend Willpower to physically change their bodies. They’re permanently stuck the way they were at their time of Embrace.
The rules don’t directly address this, but when a vampire automatically spends Vitae to heal wounds, they still spend Vitae even if it’s not enough to completely their wounds. For example, if a vampire with 1 aggravated damage only has 4 Vitae in their system, they spend it all even though aggravated wounds require 5 Vitae to heal. (This does mean, though, that they only need to spend 1 more Vitae to heal the wound once they’ve fed.)
We’ve made a bunch of tweaks to predatory aura. The following guidelines consolidate them and replace the section from the rulebook on how Lashing Out works.
To lash out, the vampire must take a simple action appropriate to the aspect of predator used. A monstrous Beast uses Strength and growls, threatens, gnashes teeth, or calls to action. A seductive Beast uses Presence and sidles up to the prey, whispers beautiful lies, or gives a telling gaze from across the crowd. A competitive Beast uses Intelligence and draws a line in the sand, announces terms, or takes the role of cat in a chase.
Cost: 0 Willpower if the target’s Supernatural Tolerance is equal or lower than the vampire’s. 1 Willpower if it’s higher.
Dice Pool: (Power Attribute appropriate to type of Beast invoked) + Blood Potency + Domain vs. (same Power Attribute) + Supernatural Tolerance + Domain. Mortals and supernatural beings with lower Supernatural Tolerance than the vampire’s Blood Potency must spend 1 Willpower to even attempt to resist. Disciplines do not add to predatory aura rolls. For example, Vigor does not add to the monstrous Beast, and Majesty does not add to the seductive Beast.
Action: Instant and contested. The victim can spend an instant action or reflexive action to contest, with different effects as described below. If the victim has not yet acted in the Initiative que, spending an instant action to resist takes their next action.
Failure: The victim’s Beast (or simple force of will) proves stronger than yours.
If the victim spent an instant action to contest your aura, his Beast rises in counter-challenge and inflicts the Lashed Condition on you as described below. The victim can only take this option if they are another vampire, werewolf, or other supernatural creature with a similar “Beast.” Some supernatural creatures have similar abilities to predatory aura they can use in its place. (Mages, for example, inflict a Nimbus Tilt instead of the Lashed Condition.)
If the victim spent a reflexive action to contest your aura, they withstand your Beast without turning their back on you. You do not take the Lashed Condition. Mortals can only ever take this response, as they lack a Beast or supernatural power source of their own.
Success: Your Beast proves stronger the the victim’s and inflicts the Lashed Condition on them.
Bonuses: For every significant mental or physical confrontation the vampire has won against the victim previously, they gain a +1 bonus on predatory aura rolls against the victim, up to a maximum of +5. For every contest the victim wins, they reduce the vampire’s bonus by 1. Once the vampire’s bonus is reduced to 0, the victim can increase their own bonus.
Example: Cletus has a +1 bonus on predatory aura rolls against Micheal, due to having won a fight against the Brujah. If Micheal won a fight against Cletus, Cletus’ bonus would be reduced to 0. If Micheal won a second fight, his bonus would increase to +1.
Accidental Embraces: The Embrace is not a willful action. The only prerequisite is that a mortal drink some of a vampire’s blood at their point of death; this can mean the Embrace happens by accident. Many such “accidents” become Caitiff, although the process of their creation is poorly understood.
Humanity Loss: The Embrace is a breaking point at Humanity 2 rather than an automatic Humanity loss. Banes may be taken against it.
Posthumous Embraces: This happens as a plot device (or something for players to use Declarations on) rather than with an automatic Blood Potency roll. Posthumous Embraces are uncommon but not unheard of. They are particularly unlikely to occur to mortals without any vitae in their systems when they died (ie, non-ghouls), and particularly to occur to ghouls who have recently fed from their domitors.
Revenants: Replace all references to revenants with Caitiff. Caitiff do not use the special rules for revenants and function identically to other Kindred (save for their lack of clan). Caitiff are sired as plot devices (or player-invoked Declarations) rather than with Blood Potency rolls.
Starting Blood Potency: Kindred whose sires have exceptional Blood Potency (6+) enter their Requiems with higher than typical Blood Potency scores too. There is a reason the Embrace of elder sires is so coveted.
|Sire’s Blood Potency||Childe’s Blood Potency|
Changed the following.
Human Blood: Taking less Vitae than a victim’s Stamina (1-2 for the average human) leaves them feeling woozy but has no mechanical effects.
Taking more Vitae than a victim’s Stamina (3 for the average human) inflicts the Drained Condition. The victim would be well-served to take a sick day but can eventually recuperate on their own.
Taking enough Vitae for the victim to suffer wound penalties (4-6 for the average human) necessitates hospitalization, but with proper care the victim will likely pull through.
Taking Vitae equal to the victim’s Stamina (7 for the average human) leaves them dying and bleeding out, as per the usual rules for taking lethal damage equal to one’s Health. Even if the victim is rushed to a hospital, their survival is not a guarantee.
Taking Further Human Blood: The human body cannot survive total exsanguination. Losing as “little” as 40% of one’s blood volume results in a Class 4 hemorrhage that is impossible to survive without immediate and major resuscitative help. How, then, can victims survive being exsanguinated by a vampire who “only” inflicts lethal damage equal to their Health? People aren’t dead until they take aggravated damage equal to their Health, and the rules for medical treatment allow anyone who hasn’t reached that fatal point to potentially pull through. This would suggest an “exsanguinated” victim has not actually lost 100% of their blood volume.
That happens to be the case. Ordinary vampiric feeding is extremely efficient at its job, but it still cannot extract a body’s complete blood volume. Vampiric feeding is analogous to stabbing a knife through an orange and twisting it around to get out all the juice. Even if you are an expert at handling that “knife,” it is impossible to get every last drop without peeling the orange or using a blender.
Human victims actually have more Vitae than their Health, but vampires who want to get every last drop of blood must employ drastic measures: stringing the victim up and butchering them like livestock, feeding them through meat processing equipment, literally carving them into pieces, and so on. This process (which can only be performed on a helpless victim) is by definition fatal and requires the vampire to inflict aggravated damage equal to the victim’s Health. The vampire gains an additional amount of Vitae equal to the victim’s Size dots (2 for most humans) on top of the Vitae gained by draining them through normal means.
This sort of behavior is obviously not conductive to maintaining one’s Humanity. It requires time and forethought, and thus requires the vampire to commit premeditated murder (a Humanity 3-4 breaking point unless they are scavenging fresh corpses). The act of stringing up and bleeding a human corpse like livestock (or disposing of one through even grislier means) is a Humanity 5-6 breaking point.
Cold Blood: Players have asked about the shelf life of refrigerated blood several times. As a Google search will tell you, blood can be safely stored for up to 42 days, although it starts to degrade before the final 42nd day.
For game purposes, blood can be refrigerated and consumed without penalty for up to one month. Blood stored for longer than one month starts to degrade and is worth half as much Vitae (round down). Blood stored for longer than 1.5 months (45 days) becomes completely inert and useless. This replaces the rulebook’s existing system for how much Vitae vampires may gain from refrigerated blood. Vampires who drain, refrigerate, and re-drink their own blood must also contend with vitae addiction. This is the primary reason why more vampires don’t attempt to save their own blood for “rainy days”.
Characters with Allies, Status, or a related Merit in a medical organization can freeze blood for later use. Frozen blood lasts up to 10 years. Freezing blood takes specialized medical equipment (simply sticking a plastic bag of blood in a household freezer is not sufficient to preserve it), and un-freezing the blood involves a similarly special procedure that takes several hours. Consuming frozen blood is actually less efficient than hunting for purposes of night-to-night sustenance, although there are still some niche circumstances where a vampire might find frozen blood useful (such as if they do not want to leave their haven).
It is believed that Kindred blood magicians may know more efficient means of preserving blood for later use. The Tremere, as masters of vitae manipulation par none, are thought to be the foremost experts in this area.
Animal/Corpse Blood: Kindred can live off the blood of animals and fresh corpses, though such fare is distinctly less filling. The maximum number of Vitae that can be drawn from such sources is equal to the animal’s or corpse’s Size (2 for humans), rather than Stamina + Size. Blood from dead animals is worth only half this amount (round down).
Kindred Vitae: Feeding from Kindred with Blood Potency 6+ drains them of additional Vitae for every turn spent feeding. Their bodies do not actually contain larger volumes of blood, but rather, their blood has greater power concentrated into it. The ratio is as follows:
|Blood Potency||Turn/Vitae Gained|
Supernatural Vitae: At the GM’s discretion, feeding from other supernatural creatures may impose unusual effects.
Blood Mixed with Food: This was another question raised by players: can vampires consume vitae-based foods like blood sausage, blood pancakes, or blood admixed with beer? The answer is yes and no. The vampire can attempt to consume such revolting fare with a Resolve + Stamina roll. Every success allows the vampire to choke down 1 Vitae (up to a maximum number equal to the amount included in the food). Any other organic matter consumed by the vampire is violently regurgitated within one turn per Stamina dot. A vampire who activates Blush of Life, or who has the Eat Food Merit, can automatically consume all of the food’s Vitae without a dice roll (but must still disgorge the food later).
Characters with more than one Blood Potency dot roll a die with a number of sides equal to their Vitae pool. For a example, a vampire with Blood Potency 4 rolls a 1d13. (Google Hangouts’ built-in roller allows for non-regular dice rolls.)
Kindred who have more ghouls than Herd + Domain + Blood Potency take a -1 penalty on starting Vitae rolls per excess ghoul from the stain of feeding so many mouths.
During downtime, where nightly dice rolls and events are skimmed over, characters have a single free Vitae to spend every scene. To spend more, they make a starting Vitae roll as normal.
Feeding Scenes (With Dice)
Excess Ghouls: Kindred who have more ghouls than Herd + Domain + Blood Potency take a -1 penalty on hunting rolls per excess ghoul from the stain of feeding so many mouths.
Proxy Hunting: Characters may hunt victims on behalf of other vampires. This imposes a flat -3 penalty on the hunting roll. The hunting character may “donate” any number of Vitae obtained from the hunting roll to the other vampire. Proxy hunting takes two hours rather than one.
Times of Awakening
The lower a vampire’s Humanity, the later they awaken at night.
|Humanity||Time of Awakening|
|10||The vampire has an effectively mortal biological clock. Sunlight still burns them, but it does not force them to enter true, hibernation-like daysleep like less humane undead. The vampire uses the mortal rules for sleep and fatigue rather than the rules for Kindred daysleep.|
|9||Civil twilight (sunset). 5:00 PM winter solstice; 8:04 PM summer solstice.|
|9||Civil dusk (nautical twilight). 5:26 PM winter solstice; 8:31 PM summer solstice.|
|7||Nautical dusk (astronomical twilight). 5:55 PM winter solstice; 9:05 PM summer solstice.|
|6||Astronomical dusk (nightfall). 6:25 PM winter solstice; 9:40 PM summer solstice.|
|5||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 10 minutes|
|4||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 20 minutes|
|3||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 30 minutes|
|2||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 40 minutes|
|1||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 50 minutes|
|0||Astronomical dusk (nightfall) + 60 minutes|
Sleeping Times: Lower-Humanity vampires rise later at night, but all Kindred (except those with Humanity 10) feel the somnolent weight of the grave at the exact same time—sunrise. While some scholars find it “inconsistent” that vampires closer to their Beasts aren’t forced into daysleeper earlier, dawn is what literally and symbolically banishes the undead and other forces of darkness. There is no salvation for mortals while night still reigns. As Harvey Dent said, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.”
Staying up Late and Awakening Early
Waking during daysleep, or staying awake until dawn, is revised to use the following mechanics:
Cost: 1 Vitae if the vampire is trying to wake from sleep. 0 Vitae if the vampire is trying to stay awake.
Dice Pool: Resolve + Stamina. Vampires with Humanity 9 automatically achieve a success without needing to make a dice roll. Vampires with Humanity 10 use the rules for normal, mortal sleep rather than Kindred rules for daysleep.
Dramatic Failure: The vampire falls or remains asleep and something else goes wrong, such as automatically slumbering through their next disturbance.
Failure: The vampire falls or remains asleep.
Success: The vampire awakens or remains alert and active. Vampires with Humanity 9 can remain awake for the rest of the day. Vampires with Humanity 8 or lower remain awake for the rest of the scene. Vampires with Humanity 5 and lower remain awake for one turn per success rolled. The vampire can extend this duration by spending 1 Willpower for every additional turn they wish to remain active: once they stop spending Willpower, they crash hard and falls back asleep. Vampires with Humanity 3 or lower can only remain awake by spending Willpower each turn.
Vampires awake during the day are drained and lethargic, feeling the weight of sleeplessness. This imposes a penalty on dice rolls determined by the vampire’s Humanity.
Exceptional Success: The vampire treats their Humanity as two dots higher for purposes of roll penalties or determining how long they can remain awake (player’s choice).
See this page for how the game handles bloodlines.
Caitiff treat all blood ties as one step weaker. Among other consequences, this means the clanless do not feel any blood sympathy towards other Caitiff simply for being “clanmates”.
Thin-bloods also treat all blood ties as one step weaker. This stacks with the weakening of ties from being Caitiff.
The roll to resist vitae addiction is Resolve + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance – number of Vitae ingested. The character must roll a number of successes equal to (1/2 vampire’s Blood Potency, rounded up).
See this page for how the game handles blood bonds.
Creating a ghoul does not require the domitor to spend Willpower.
Elder ghouls (ones who have outlived their mortal lifespans) whose domitors have exceptional Blood Potency scores (6+) can purchase dots in Blood Potency up to (domitor’s Blood Potency – 5). These dots are retained if the ghoul is ever Embraced. Rumors persistent of terrible ghouls in service to methuselahs who have powers over the Blood to match any ancilla’s.
Diablerie rules are rewritten as follows:
There is one thing that elder Kindred dread even more than fire or the light of the sun. This is the sin known as diablerie, or the Amaranth. Among Camarilla society, diablerie is the ultimate crime; those who practice it are subject to the harshest punishments imaginable. It is as loathed and feared as cannibalism is among mortal society. The vampires of the Sabbat, as well as the warriors of Clan Assarnite, are said to indulge in diablerie freely, which is yet another reason why the elders hate them so.
Quite simply, diablerie is the act of feeding on a vampire in the way that a vampire feeds on a mortal. In so doing, not only does the murderer consume the victim’s blood (and vampire blood is far, far sweeter than even the tastiest mortal’s), but the victim’s power as well. By stealing the life of a vampire closer to Caine, the vampire can permanently enrich his own vitae. In this manner can even the youngest vampire can gain the power of the elders, should they have the strength and daring to wrest it from them.
Elders know the crime as the Amaranth; in olden nights, it is said, an amaranth flower was presented to the victim a week before they were to be hunted. Kindred legend tells many dark tales of murderous childer betraying and cannibalizing their own sires, and it is for this reason more than any other that elder Kindred harbor such distrust for the neonates among them. Indeed, the great Jyhad itself may well have its roots in this eternal and savage struggle for ultimate power.
A vampire seeking to commit diablerie must drain all the blood from their Kindred victim. Following this act, the vampire must continue to suck, for (according to legend) the very soul is withdrawn from the victim’s body and taken into the diablerist’s. The effort involved in diablerie is monumental, for the vampiric soul is a greedy thing and clings tenaciously to unlife, hoping to regenerate its body and rise once again.
Once a vampire’s body has been drained of all Vitae, the true struggle begins. The diablerist spends an instant action to make a Resolve + Strength roll contested by the victim’s Resolve + Stamina. If the diablerist wins, every rolled success inflicts one point of aggravated damage on the victim. The penalty for the victim to avoid frenzying is always -5: their Beast will fight like a cornered animal to escape the unspeakable fate that it knows is near. If the diablerie is interrupted, the victim must make a detachment roll at Humanity 1-2 and gains a Persistent Mental Condition instead of a bane. The experience of having one’s soul nearly devoured is incredibly traumatic, and it is not unheard of for some near-victims of diablerie to still go mad and lose themselves to their Beasts.
A vampire committing diablerie is quite preoccupied and does not apply Defense against incoming attacks. Total concentration goes into the struggle to draw forth the essence of the victim, and stopping for even a moment ruins the chance of capturing the spirit.
To commit diablerie, the diablerist must take blood directly and immediately from the victim; the blood may not be stored and used later. Moreover, only one diablerist may commit the act on a given victim; a pack of neonates cannot swarm around an elder like hungry sharks, no matter how potent the victim’s blood. The Tremere and Assamite clans are rumored to have developed mystic means of bypassing one or both of these prohibitions.
Once the victim takes enough aggravated damage to meet final death, the victim’s essence is taken into the diablerist and the emptied body begins decaying immediately. The diablerist is overwhelmed by euphoria and must achieve three successes on a Resolve + Composure roll to avoid frenzying. The sensation is akin to orgasm, but so much more powerful. The diablerist must also make a detachment roll at Humanity 1-2: few atrocities are more terrible than the amaranth. Kindred witnesses to the diablerist’s crime must roll for detachment at Humanity 5-6 (or Humanity 3-4 if they were accomplices to it). Mortal witnesses almost certainly face a breaking point.
The Rewards of Diablerie
Diablerie confers a number of potent rewards.
• Generation: If the victim is of lower generation than the diablerist, add the victim’s generation to the diablerist’s and divide by two, rounding up. The result is the diablerist’s new generation. This is the most coveted reward of the amaranth, for the diablerist can shatter the “glass ceiling” imposed by their sire’s blood and bring themselves closer to the mythical power of Caine. The amaranth tempts all vampires, but it is most irresistible to weaker-blooded ones who cannot grow more powerful with the passing of years.
• Blood Potency: If the victim had higher Blood Potency than the diablerist, add the victim’s Blood Potency to the diablerist’s and divide by two, rounding up. The result is the diablerist’s new Blood Potency.
• Disciplines: Add up the victim’s total Discipline dots, then subtract the diablerist’s total Discipline dots. The diablerist gains half this number of Discipline dots (rounding up), up to a maximum number of dots equal to the victim’s Blood Potency.
The diablerist may only gain Discipline dots the victim possessed themselves, and typically gains dots in whatever Disciplines the victim possessed the highest ratings in. The diablerist never gains dots in Blood Sorcery unless the same type of Blood Sorcery is also an in-clan Discipline for both the diablerist and the victim (for example, if one Sangiovanni with Blood Sorcery [Necromancy] diablerizes another Sangiovanni with Blood Sorcery [Necromancy]).
Finally, for up to one night per dot of the victim’s Blood Potency, the diablerist may spend their own Experiences to learn any other Disciplines or Devotions possessed by the victim. The diablerist cannot purchase more Discipline dots than the victim’s Blood Potency dots. In this manner, devouring the souls of even weaker vampires can be useful, so long as they know some power of the Blood that their murderer does not.
• Other Traits: Diablerie provides justification for characters to spend Experiences on Attributes, Skills, and Physical, Mental, or Supernatural Merits that would normally require significant intervals of time to learn. The diablerist ignores normal learning periods and simply absorbs the victim’s memories and experiences directly into themselves. It’s not unheard of for diablerie to even cause physical chances in the diablerist (justifying increased Physical Attributes or new Physical Merits). The diablerist cannot spend Experiences on trait ratings higher than any the victim possessed. The diablerist must also spend any Experiences within one night per dot of the victim’s Blood Potency before the “window” to do so is lost.
The Perils of Diablerie
Committing diablerie seems like the perfect crime to many power-hungry neonates. There is no body left when the deed is done, as vampiric corpses immediately disintegrate into clumps of ash. Without solid evidence, it’s difficult for even the most despotic prince to make an outright accusation of murder. But those who commit the atrocity soon learn that diablerists wear the evidence of their crime on their very souls.
• Stained Aura: Vampires with the Auspex Discipline can detect a diablerist by using Uncanny Perception. The stolen energies of the victim mingle with the energies of the diablerist, leaving thick black marks running across the diablerist’s aura. These marks stand as clearly as motor oil on a crystal-clear pond, covering the softer colors of the victim’s own aura and betraying the crime beyond question. These marks remain in evidence for a number of nights equal to the victim’s Blood Potency—the same duration, in fact, that it takes for the diablerist to fully absorb the victim’s soul into their own (in game terms, to still spend Experiences on Disciplines and other traits known by the victim).
Not all vampires know of diablerie or the stains it leaves behind. Many younger Kindred might simply question the odd discoloration on the vampire’s aura. Most elder vampires understand what the stains mean, though, and could well call for the diablerist’s immediate punishment or use the information as blackmail at a later date. For this reason, many diablerists go into seclusion and attempt to limit their contact with other Kindred until the stains on their aura can fade. Practitioners of thaumaturgy, however, are said to have rituals that can detect the diablerist’s sin even centuries after the crime was committed. For that reason, and for many others, practitioners of the amaranth fear the Tremere.
• Addiction: Amaranth is sweet beyond all other pleasures—so sweet that perpetrators can easily become addicted to the sensation. The diablerist must achieve three successes on a Resolve + Composure roll (with a penalty equal to the number of Blood Potency dots gained, if any) to avoid gaining the Addicted (diablerie) Condition. All Kindred fear these vampires, known as “rogues”, for their addiction to the pleasures of amaranth makes them a threat to everyone. Even vampires too weak to provide additional power are devoured for the simple pleasure of the act.
• Social Stigma: Such is the horror of diablerie that, according to many elders, even a blood hunt is no grounds for its practice. Hunters may drink a victim’s blood, even to the last drop, but may not continue the process of diablerie once the victim is drained. Indeed, by degree of the Inner Circle, only a sire is permitted to diablerize their childe, and then only during a blood hunt. In practice, many younger Kindred take the opportunity of blood hunt’s chaos for kinslaying, and princes often look the other way if the criminal was heinous enough. A few particularly cruel or traditionalist princes actually consider it the right of hunters to devour the criminal’s soul, under the rationale that a blood hunt negates a vampire’s very existence and no longer makes them Kindred.
• Humanity Loss: Diablerie is worse than murder: the amaranth literally absorbs the victim’s soul, allegedly destroying any chance of the victim finding peace in the afterlife. Even if the perpetrator does not believe in such things, the victim suffers unspeakable agony in the moments before their final death. The diablerist faces a detachment roll at Humanity 1-2.
Damage type and frequency rates are changed to the following:
|6-7||1 aggravated||4-5||2 aggravated|
|Blood Potency||Damage Frequency|
|1-2||1x / 3 turns|
|3-4||1x / 2 turns|
|5-6||1x / turn|
|7-8||2x / turn|
|9-10||3x / turn|
Reducing Sunlight Damage: Kindred treat their Humanity as two dots higher (to a maximum of 10) if the sunlight is especially faint or filtered (such as through drapes, the sun reflected by a mirror, or only a small part of their body exposed). These “bonuses” stack. For example, a vampire who sticks their hand in front of sunlight filtered through drapes treats their Humanity as four dots higher.
Kindred treat their Blood Potency as two dots lower (to a minimum of 1) during twilight or periods especially overcast weather. These “bonuses” also stack.
Animals despise the undead. They put their backs up defensively, growl, hiss, or boast. Any attempts to deal with animals through Animal Ken suffer a (10 – Humanity) penalty.
At Humanity 9-10, animals are mostly unbothered by the vampire’s presence (or at least nearly so at Humanity 9).
At Humanity 7-8, animals are noticeably skittish around the vampire and try to avoid them. Cornered animals attack.
At Humanity 5-6, animals find the vampire’s presence extremely unsettling. Small and nonpredatory animals flee, or attack if cornered. Large or predatory animals attack if approached.
At Humanity 4 and below, the vampire’s presence drives animals completely mad. Small and nonpredatory animals flee, or attack if cornered. Large or predatory animals attack on sight.
Hated by Beasts is not a bane. All vampires have it unless they take the Inoffensive to Animals Merit. Its effects do not apply against ghouled animals or animals under the influence of Animalism.
These are detailed under Clans.
Trapped within the false civility of the Camarilla and the forced camaraderie of the Sabbat, there is a hidden truth: Vampires are monsters, possessed of an inner Beast. When faced with danger, hunger, or other provocations, that Beast can break free. Its response is always the same: End the problem by any means necessary. Kindred refer to these outbursts as frenzies.
During frenzy, the character is a mindless, ravenous animal. Friends, foes, lovers, ethics: None of these things matter to a vampire in frenzy. If a vampire in frenzy is hungry, they will tear open their childrens’ throats and suck them dry. If the vampire is angry, they will rip their spouse into bloody shreds. If the vampire is frightened, they will abandon a lifelong friend to die. The character completely surrenders to they basest instincts. They care nothing for the consequences of their actions. They are, in short, a Beast.
When a vampire is confronted by something that agitiates their Beast, they roll Resolve + Composure at a variable penalty to see if the provocation drives them to frenzy. The worse the provocation is, the higher the penalty. The Storyteller is encouraged to come up with other situational modifiers to reflect the relative tension of the scene. For example, if the vampire’s rival has made a point of goading them every time they meet, it may impose an additional –1 penalty to the roll.
Frenzies are generally triggered by anger, fear, or hunger. Exact penalties will vary by character; the below ones are given as examples.
|Harrassed by aggressive pandhandler||-1|
|Idiot scrapes your new car||-1|
|Hours of frustration and delay||-2|
|Insulted in public||-2|
|Reviled by someone you dislike||-3|
|Betrayed by a partner in a deal||-3|
|Betrayed by someone you love||-4|
|Lose everything you own||-4|
|Death of loved one||-5|
|Reviled and humiliated by someone you love||-5|
|Physically hurt (aggravated damage)||-2 per point suffered|
|Physically hurt (lethal damage)||-1 per point suffered|
|Physically hurt (bashing damage)||-1 per 2 points suffered|
|Lighting a cigarette||0|
|Flashbulb in the face||-1|
|Presence of fire (size)||-1 torch, -2 bonfire, -3 inferno|
|Presence of fire (heat)||-1 torch, -2 bunsen burner, -3 molten metal|
|Securely contained fire||+1|
|Safely distant fire||+2|
|Sight or smell of blood (full; 5+ Vitae)||-1 per 2 points of lethal damage suffered by victim|
|Sight or smell of blood (hungry; 3-4 Vitae)||-1 plus -1 per 2 points of lethal damage suffered by victim|
|Sight or smell of blood (starving; 1-2 Vitae)||-2 plus -1 per 2 points of lethal damage suffered by victim|
|Taste of blood (hungry; 3-4 Vitae)||-3|
|Taste of blood (starving; 1-2 Vitae)||-5|
|Presence of a mortal or other vampire (starving; 1-2 Vitae)||-3|
Full vampires (5+ Vitae) do not need to make frenzy rolls when they willingly attempt to consume a mortal’s or other vampire’s blood.
|On Elysium grounds||+2|
|Hungry (3-4 Vitae)||-1|
|Starving (1-2 Vitae)||-3|
|Wounded (at all)||-1|
|Wounded in last three Health boxes||-3|
The Frenzy Roll
Dice Pool: Resolve + Composure. Check the suggested modifiers above for penalties and bonuses depending on the circumstance. Willpower may not be spent on this roll.
Dramatic Failure: The character succumbs to frenzy and something else goes wrong, such as being unable to end the frenzy until they reach a breaking point (if the Beast gets its desire, choose a new one). She takes two Beats if the frenzy has dramatic consequences.
Failure: The character succumbs to frenzy. She takes a Beat if the frenzy has dramatic consequences.
Success: The character resists the Beast but gains the Tempted Condition.
Exceptional Success: The character not only resists the Beast, but regains a point of spent Willpower, and any Willpower they spent fighting the Beast during the scene.
Upon entering frenzy, determine what the Beast wants. Does it want to escape? Does it want to punish the person who insulted his host? Does it want blood? Typically, frenzy ends when that thing occurs.
Behavior: While frenzied, the vampire does everything in their power to accomplish the Beast’s desires. They do so with immediate, forceful, and destructive abandon. If there’s someone in the way, the vampire throws them or decks them. If the vampire’s hungry, they bite the closest thing to their mouth. That said, the Beast isn’t stupid. It’s capable of doing the kinds of things an enraged, terrified, or starving animal predator is, and it will lash out with the predatory aura if that will help sate it.
That also said, the Beast isn’t intelligent either. When it attacks something, it does so with immediate, forceful abandon. It can attack with a melee weapon already in its hand, but anything more complex (such as firing guns or drawing a sheathed weapon) doesn’t occur to it. A frenzying vampire can use Disciplines that would let them cow, weaken, or better pursue their target (such as Awe or an active use of Celerity), but anything that requires speech or more advanced tactics than “overcome this immediate impediment” is impossible.
The Beast has no concept of mercy, surrender, or fighting until “first blood.” A frenzying vampire that attacks someone will continue to mindlessly savage them even after they are unconscious or beaten into torpor. Attacking a frenzied vampire can draw their ire, but once any interruptive threats are dealt dealt with, the Beast’s natural impulse is to kill even defeated foes.
Coercion: If a character tries to coerce the vampire to behavior contrary to the Beast’s desires, either via Social actions or through Disciplines, the effort fails. They can, however, divert the Beast’s attention to another, similar target. For example, if Veronica falls to her Beast due to hunger and leaps at Elspeth, Elspeth might Dominate her to attack Dominic instead.
Detachment: Atrocities committed during frenzy often lead to detachment rolls as a character tries to deal with remorse. Repeated frenzies can certainly grind down a vampire’s Humanity.
Duration: Frenzies last for a minimum of one turn per dot of vampire’s Blood Potency (Brujah frenzies, per their clan bane, last for this duration or 11 – Humanity turns, whichever is longer). If the Beast accomplishes its desire before the frenzy wears off, the vampire attacks the nearest character that most enrages it or simply looks weakest. In the absence of any nearby victims, the vampire mindlessly rampages, destroys their surroundings, and hunts for targets to vent their wrath upon.
Statistics: When in frenzy, the vampire becomes stronger, faster, and tougher. Their Beast drives them to feats of terrifying physical prowess. Add their Blood Potency dots to any Strength, Dexterity, or Stamina rolls or resistances. (Do not apply their improved Stamina to their Health levels.) Ignore any wound penalties they should suffer. They can grab and bite as a single instant action, as they ravenously maul their victim. Apply the successes on their Strength + Brawl roll to establish a grapple as lethal damage, and they drain a number of Vitae equal to their Blood Potency (but no more than the amount of lethal damage inflicted). Finally, a frenzying vampire adds their Blood Potency to rolls against Disciplines that would coerce their behavior, effectively allowing them to add their Blood Potency twice. As described above, it is still impossible to coerce a frenzying vampire into not attacking, only into attacking something else.
Besides succeeding on the initial Resolve + Composure roll, there are three—and only three—means by which a frenzying vampire can mitigate the consequences of their Beast.
Riding the Wave: Some Kindred choose to grab their Beasts by the reins, and wield that monstrous power. It’s a risky proposition, but one with great rewards. This practice is called riding the wave of frenzy.
To ride the wave, spend a Willpower point when the initial Resolve + Composure roll to resist frenzy is called for. Treat any failure on this roll as a dramatic failure. On a success, the frenzy functions identically to a normal frenzy, with all normal benefits. However, you may choose the Beast’s desire and specific target at the outset. This desire does not have to align with the provocation. For example, if Victoria risks frenzy because she’s starved, she might choose to kill Dominic instead of feeding.
Normally, a frenzied Beast will not force its host to commit diablerie. However, a vampire riding the wave may choose diablerie as the desire.
Touchstones: A vampire’s Touchstone (and no one else) can talk them down from frenzy with an extended Social roll, requiring a number of successes equal to three times the vampire’s Blood Potency. The Touchstone can make one roll per turn. So a Blood Potency 4 vampire’s Touchstone would require 12 successes to talk them out of frenzy. During this time, the vampire’s likely to cause significant problems for themselves and others.
Willpower: At any point during a frenzy, the vampire may spend a point of Willpower to hold off the Beast for one turn. They may growl, hiss, smash something, or sprint off, but they’re temporarily in control. They can spend another point of Willpower to prolong this lucidity for an additional turn. The vampire can continue spending Willpower until they run out, but eventually they must face their Beast.
Once they stops spending Willpower, make the initial Resolve + Composure roll again, but take a bonus die for each Willpower point spent. So, if you spend four Willpower points for your character to take four turns fighting their frenzy, on the fifth turn, roll their Resolve + Composure + 4. On a success, the vampire snaps out of the frenzy.
Vampires in torpor lose dots in Blood Potency at the rate of one dot per ten years. These lost dots return at the same rate when the vampire awakens.
Diablerie expedites this process. Even when it does not lower the diablerist’s generation, they benefit as normal from the Blood Potency increase. (For example, a 6th-generation Blood Potency 7 vampire reduced to Blood Potency 3 who commits diablerie on an 8th-generation Blood Potency 5 vampire raises their Blood Potency to 4.)
Drinking the vitae of other vampires also expedites this process, but more slowly. The risen Kindred must drink vitae equal to double the maximum amount they can store at their current Blood Potency level. This returns one lost dot of Blood Potency. (For example, a formerly Blood Potency 6 Kindred rises from torpor at Blood Potency 2. By drinking 22 Vitae from other Kindred, they increase their Blood Potency back to 3. At that point, they would have to drink 24 Vitae from other Kindred to return to Blood Potency 4.) Recall, also, that Kindred with especially high Blood Potency grant additional Vitae with every Vitae taken.
Staking a Vampire: To stake a vampire, make a Strength + Weaponry roll with a –3 penalty after factoring Defense. Five or more points of damage penetrate the heart and stake the vampire. The attacker can deal this damage over multiple turns to a grappled or restrained vampire. Once the attacker deals five total damage, the vampire is staked.
(This is an exception to our normal house rule that allows characters to substitute Dexterity for Strength on attack rolls. Ramming a piece of wood through a vampire’s chest cavity is entirely a question of upper bodily strength.)
A partly staked vampire can roll Strength + Dexterity to pull out the stake as an instant action. This does not heal any damage, but reduces the amount of damage the attacker counts as having inflicted for purposes of staking the vampire. The vampire can spend multiple turns pulling out a stake. If the vampire reduces the attacker’s counted damage to 0, they pull the stake entirely out of their chest.
Mallet: Oft-overlooked by vampire stories but used in Dracula, a mallet gives characters the mechanical force they need to drive a stake home through the breastplate. A mallet increases a stake’s weapon modifier by two points of damage. Using a stake and mallet requires two hands, so the character can only use a mallet on a vampire who is prone or restrained.
Effects of Staking: A staked vampire is immobilized instead of entering torpor. An immobilized vampire is conscious but cannot take physical actions (including speech) or spend Vitae to do anything except awaken each evening. By spending a point of Willpower, the vampire can perform minute movements, such as twitching a finger or opening their eyes, but that is the extent of their mobility.
A staked vampire is still subject to daysleep. They vampire can still spend one Vitae to awaken each evening, as mentioned, but will eventually fall into torpor without a source of fresh blood.
GM Commentary: Staking vampires in mid-combat is very hard, and intentionally so—staking instantly ends a fight. Doing five points of damage after a -3 penalty takes an average dice pool of 18. Doing five points of damage after further penalties from Defense is even harder. If the vampire has dots in Celerity or (especially) Resilience, the task becomes harder yet.
Breaking Points: Many Chronicles of Darkness gamelines group breaking points over five or even three levels of Mortality rather than ten levels like Vampire does (for example, in Mage, destroying an Awakened soul is a breaking point at Wisdom 1-3, rather than only at Wisdom 2 or Wisdom 1). This is MUCH more convenient when coming up with ad hoc breaking points, since the GM only has to consider five “levels” of sins rather than ten. Breaking points are therefor reorganized according to the following Humanity levels. For further convenience, I’ve also subdivided them into categories too.
Humanity 9-10, Ascetic (4 Dice)
• Disciplines: Committing a superhuman feat of physical prowess. Spending more than one Vitae in a night. Urging someone’s behavior with a Discipline.
• Feeding: Feeding from the unwilling or unknowing.
• Human Contact: One night (or chapter) without human contact.
• Mortality: Watching or participating in a mortal activity you cannot enjoy.
• Torpor: Falling into torpor.
• Touchstones: Having fewer than five Touchstones at the end of a story arc.
• Lying in defense of the Masquerade.
Humanity 7-8, Humane (3 Dice)
• Blood Potency: Reaching Blood Potency 2.
• Disciplines: Depriving someone of consent with a Discipline.
• Feeding: Injuring someone over blood.
• Ghouls: Creating a ghoul.
• Human Contact: One week (or two chapters) without human contact. Rejected by a human.
• Mortality: Surviving something that would hospitalize a human.
• Torpor: Spending a week or more in torpor.
• Touchstones: Having fewer than four Touchstones at the end of a story arc.
• Gaining Status in a covenant.
• Riding the wave of frenzy.
Humanity 5-6, Balanced (2 Dice)
• Blood Potency: Reaching Blood Potency 4. Buying higher Blood Potency than the norm for your age.
• Feeding: Feeding from a friend, child, or other “unacceptable” victim.
• Ghouls: Creating a ghoul from a mortal friend or loved one.
• Human Contact: Two weeks (or three chapters) without human contact.
• Mortality: Death of a mortal family member or close friend. Reading your own obituary.
• Murder: Accidental or impassioned killing.
• Torpor: Spending a month or more in torpor.
• Touchstones: Having fewer than three Touchstones at the end of a story arc.
Humanity 3-4, Weathered (1 Dice)
• Blood Potency: Reaching Blood Potency 6.
• Human Contact: One month (or story arc) without human contact.
• Mortality: Death of a mortal spouse or child. Surviving a century. Surviving the deaths of everyone you ever knew.
• Murder: Premeditated killing.
• Torpor: Spending a year or more in torpor.
• Touchstones: Having fewer than two Touchstones at the end of a story arc.
• Committing torture.
• Embracing another vampire.
Humanity 1-2, Monstrous (Chance Die)
• Blood Potency: Reaching Blood Potency 8.
• Human Contact: One year without human contact.
• Mortality: Seeing a culture that didn’t exist when you were alive. Surviving 500 years.
• Murder: Heinous, spree, or mass murder. Killing a Touchstone or mortal loved one.
• Touchstones: Having no Touchstones at the end of a story arc.
• Committing diablerie.
• Utter perversion, foulest of acts.
GM’s Commentary: One of the criticisms leveled against Masquerade’s Humanity system is that many popular vampire characters (Lestat, Louis) who followed its rules would have quickly degenerated into Humanity 0 wights. That’s true… to an extent.
Detachment: The results of detachment rolls are changed as follows.
Dramatic Failure: Not only does the character lose sight of their Humanity, they automatically develop a bane or persistent Mental Condition (player choice).
Failure: Your character lets go of some of their mortal attachments and moves toward monstrosity. In addition to losing a dot of Humanity, they must roll as if they had committed another breaking point at the same Humanity level to see if they develop a bane or persistent Mental Condition (player choice).
Success: Your character holds onto a scrap of empathy, despite the urge to let go. They do not lose Humanity, but they must roll as if they had committed another breaking point at the same Humanity level to see if they develop a bane or non-persistent Mental Condition (player choice).
Exceptional Success: Not only does your character hold onto their concept of Humanity, they step away from the conflict with renewed vigor. They either regain a point of Willpower or take the Inspired Condition.
Lost Humanity/Integrity: Characters who lose Humanity/Integrity have the Experience cost (two Experiences per dot) refunded, per the Sanctity of Merits rule. These Experiences are called Morality Experiences and can only be spent to increase Humanity/Integrity.
Paths of Enlightenment: Some characters may follow Paths of Enlightenment as an alternative to Humanity.
Banes are significantly expanded from the options presented in the core rulebook. See this page for further information.
Characters take a Beat whenever their bane causes them to fail a roll or otherwise seriously inconveniences them. Gaining a bane does not award a Beat.
Taking a bane does not impose a -1 penalty on detachment rolls. There is no maximum number of banes a Kindred may possess. They are cool, flavorful things the GM wishes to encourage players to take.
See this page for how the game handles Merits.
Looking around me, I knew that I had Awakened.
—The Book of Nod
Dice Pools: Disciplines use whatever Attribute + Skill combination makes sense in a given context (often multiple potential ones). Dominating someone into forgetting a memory can be (Manipulation or Intelligence) + Subterfuge just as easily as Intelligence + Expression.
Elder Disciplines: Disciplines at 6+ dot ratings do not exist in Vampire: The Requiem, but they are very much a part of Vampire: The Masquerade.
As there is no standard progression for Discipline powers after five dots, such powers are effectively all Devotions. Every dot in a Discipline over five grants a free Devotion worth (1/2 the newly-purchased rating in the Discipline, rounded down) Experiences. This Devotion cannot have any prerequisites other than the elder’s rating in the Discipline. The elder is free to develop other Devotions that incorporate multiple 6+ Disciplines, but must pay for them normally.
Example: An elder with Dominate 5 purchases Dominate 6. They receive a single Devotion worth three Experiences. This Devotion cannot incorporate any prerequisites besides Dominate 6.
Many published elder Disciplines actually work just fine as 1-5 level Devotions available to all characters. Take it from someone who designed their share of epic-level D&D/Pathfinder material back in the day: it’s very easy to fall into the design trap of needlessly restricting mostly standard-fare abilities to epic characters, while ignoring the reality that far fewer gaming groups will be able to make use of that material as a result. (This was part of why Paizo’s decision to open mythic-level play to parties of all levels was such a brilliant business move.)
A good rule of thumb when designing elder Disciplines is that they should do at least one of the following two things: affect targets on a truly massive scale, or break the established rules for how the Discipline is supposed to work. For example, a Dominate power that lets the elder issue suicidal orders, a Majesty power that affects an entire city, or a Protean power that lets the elder merge with a volcano and control its geological activity are all very appropriate 6+ level powers. A Protean power that simply lets the elder travel quickly through solid earth, however, works fine as a standard 1-5 Devotion.
Starting Disciplines: When a vampire is Embraced, they immediately know a single Discipline dot. They learn their remaining two Discipline dots after the normal waiting period for learning new Disciplines (see below). Episodes of intense stress and conflict, however, can accelerate the rate at which the new fledgling develops their powers.
In-Clan Disciplines: Kindred can freely learn in-clan Disciplines on their own. These powers come to them instinctively, but are still subject to the cap imposed by Blood Potency.
Physical Disciplines: Celerity, Resilience, and Vigor can also be freely learned by Kindred of any clan. Remember, however, that each dot still costs 4 Experiences to Kindred who do not possess them as in-clan Disciplines. A Ventrue who wants to learn a dot of Vigor pays 4 XP for it.
Non-Physical Disciplines: These Disciplines include Animalism, Auspex, Dominate, Majesty, Obfuscate, and the various unique Disciplines only possessed by a single clan or bloodline. Learning these Disciplines involves several steps for Kindred whom they are not in-clan for.
Vitae: First, the vampire must drink 1 Vitae from another vampire who already has at least one dot in the Discipline. This carries all the normal risks for vitae addiction and blood bonds. The “window” to then starting developing the Discipline fades after one night per dot of the vampire’s Blood Potency.
Instruction: Second, the student must spend time with a teacher who knows the Discipline at the level they desire to learn (a Brujah who wants to develop Auspex 2, for example, could not learn from a Toreador who only knows Auspex 1). This instruction period takes at least one night per desired new dot rating in the Discipline. This is also in addition to the normal wait times for learning new Disciplines (see below).
Advanced Powers: Once a vampire has learned at least one dot in a non-clan Discipline, they find the process of unlocking the Discipline’s higher powers somewhat easier. The vampire still requires a teacher’s instruction, but they do not need to drink further Vitae if the Discipline is in-clan for the teacher. If the Discipline is out-of-clan for the teacher, they must still drink 1 Vitae for every new dot learned.
Social Cost: Finally, it should be noted, Kindred are not predisposed towards generosity. Disciplines are a powerful edge in the Jyhad and few vampires surrender them lightly. Most teachers charge boons from their would-be students or expect an outstanding boon to be considered repaid. This is especially true for clan-unique Disciplines such as Chimerstry, Obtenebration, Serpentis, etc., whose rarity makes them all the more valuable. Cainites will charge commensurately higher prices for these Disciplines, if they are even willing to share such secrets with outsiders at all.
Teachers connected to the character through a Social Merit (Mentor, Paramour, Coterie Status, etc.) are more likely to teach Disciplines out of a sense of long-term investment or even simply goodwill. The GM assigns Disciplines to these NPCs according to their backgrounds and personalities: sometimes they might have what you want and sometimes they might not.
Diablerie: Diablerie completely bypasses the normal process for learning new Disciplines. If the diablerist does not absorb the victim’s Disciplines outright, they can still spend Experiences to instantly learn any of the victim’s Disciplines, as if they had been taught by a teacher. The “window” to learn the victim’s Disciplines still fades after one night per dot of the victim’s Blood Potency, and the diablerist cannot spend Experiences on more Discipline dots than the victim’s Blood Potency.
Learning Times: Disciplines do not develop overnight. Vampires are dead, static creatures, and learning new things does not come as easily to them as it does to the kine. Refer to the chart below for the minimum time lengths it takes for characters to learn new Disciplines: the GM may choose to use either narrative time lengths or in-game chronological ones, whichever they feel more appropriate to the PC’s circumstances. No Discipline dot ever takes more than a single story arc to learn, regardless of in-game time lengths.
At the GM’s discretion, characters still new to their supernatural powers may be able to learn their initial Disciplines at a faster rate.
|Discipline Dot||Time Spent|
|1||1 in-game week or one chapter|
|2||2 in-game weeks or two chapters|
|3||1 in-game month or three chapters|
|4||2 in-game months or four chapters|
|5||3 in-game months or one story arc|
|Devotion||1 in-game week or one chapter per Experience cost|
|Blood Sorcery Theme||1 in-game week or one chapter per new dot rating|
Acquiring New Disciplines: When a player character wants to learn a non-clan, non-physical Discipline, there are two ways they may do so:
First, the character can simply learn the Discipline in-game through any of the normal ways: calling in or promising a boon to another vampire, receiving instruction from a Mentor, diablerie, etc. This carries all the normal risks for vitae addiction, blood bonds, and social costs like prestation debts.
Alternatively, the GM may allow the player to buy the Discipline dot retroactively and declare that their character learned it earlier. The player details where and how the character learned the Discipline and rolls for vitae addiction, blood bonds, and any other applicable drawbacks. Assume that all of these drawbacks last until the present: the character’s blood bond never faded, the character never overcame their vitae addiction, the teacher hasn’t yet called in their prestation debt, etc. If any of these retroactive drawbacks would contradict established facts in the present (for example, if the character fails their vitae addiction roll but has given no indication of being a vitae addict), the GM may allow the character to take an alternative Condition or other drawback (such as failing a blood bond roll they’d have passed, owing an additional prestation debt, etc.). The GM may also simply require the character to learn the Discipline in the present if takes too much justification to explain how they learned it in the past. The intention here is to make retroactively learning Disciplines carry the same costs that learning them in-game does.
The GM may choose to waive some or all of these costs for retroactively learning a Discipline if it would: a) make sense for a character’s background and b) is meaningfully tied to the game’s larger setting. Cletus’ past as Roger Halliburton’s ghoul, for example, is an excellent rationale for him to have picked up Animalism or Protean (despite Halliburton now being dead and unable to collect on any prestation debt). “A Ravnos vagabond once trespassed into Slidell and I tortured him into revealing Chimerstry’s secrets”, however, would lack deeper relevance to the setting and carry normal costs for learning retroactively. The intention here is not to encourage players to throw in last-minute additions to their PCs’ backstories to justify new Discipline purchases, but to reward PCs whose backgrounds already meaningfully tie them to the setting.
Maximum Disciplines: Neonate PCs can learn a number of Discipline dots equal to (Blood Potency + 5) at the normal learning times. Additional Disciplines can be learned at the rate of one dot per story arc, and must be learned with a teacher’s instruction even if they are in-clan: Kindred new to the Blood can only develop their powers so fast on their own.
Several exceptions are not subject to these extended learning times:
• Theme dots for Blood Sorcery
• Discipline dots acquired through diablerie
• Discipline dots acquired through other GM-introduced, plot-specific circumstances
Ghouls and Disciplines: Ghouls use their own rules for learning and teaching Disciplines. See “Playing a Ghoul” for further information.
Then, Awakening myself further, I found […] the way to have dominion over beasts
—The Book of Nod
Insects: Animalism works on insects, just like it did/does under Vampire: The Masquerade’s rules. However, while colonies of insects may be capable of carrying out complex tasks, individual insects’ minds are too simple for vampires to communicate with. Any orders that rely on an insect’s subjective perceptions (such as “describe what you saw”) automatically fail, nor can insects “speak” to the vampire like other animals can. Basically, insects can only obey direct commands that leave no room for interpretation (such as “fly here” or “attack this person”). Nosferatu who want spies should use birds and rodents, not bugs.
Then, Awakening myself further, I found […] the way to make eyes see sight
—The Book of Nod
Actions: Auspex powers take one action per question asked or memory gleaned. For example, using Auspex 4 to read five memories takes five actions.
Concealing Auspex Use: Using Auspex requires staring closely at the target. The vampire can make a (Composure or Manipulation) + Subterfuge roll to conceal their true interest, contested by the target’s Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge) + Auspex (users of the Discipline can better recognize its use by others). If the target wins, this staring can still potentially be played off around mortals, but any vampire with dots in Auspex or Occult, or who is older than a neonate, will suspect the use of Auspex. Mortals aware of the supernatural may also suspect something unusual if they are aware of the vampire’s true nature.
Perception: Characters add their Auspex dots as a bonus to Perception rolls.
Wraiths: Kindred with Auspex can detect manifested ghosts with a Clash of Wills. Unmanifested ghosts on the other side of the Shroud cannot be passively detected in this way.
Beast’s Hackles (•)
Dice Pool: This power is contested by the target’s Composure + Blood Potency. If the target is aware they are being scrutinized with Auspex (and chooses to resist), every success subtracts one from the number of questions the vampire can ask.
Questions: Characters can also use this power to ask the following questions:
• How many dots does the target have in a Physical Skill or Attribute?
• What is the target’s highest or lowest Physical Skill or Attribute?
• What is the target’s Blood Potency?
• Is the target wearing armor?
• Does the target have a debilitating physical Condition like Disabled?
Physical Attributes discovered through Auspex include bonuses from physical Disciplines. If a vampire has Strength 4 and Vigor 3, Auspex will reveal they have Strength 7. If any Skills or Attributes are tied for the target’s highest or lowest, the GM tells the player there is a tie between two or more traits, and picks a single trait’s exact dot rating to reveal. Additional questions can be used to find out the other tie results.
Guidelines: This power can only ask questions about immediate danger or weakness. “Immediate” is defined as pertaining to the current scene. If the target is plotting to kill someone in a month but doesn’t want to hurt them right now, Auspex 1 won’t detect immediate danger. It may detect immediate weakness, however, if the target is still scared of being found out. Otherwise, use Auspex 2 to pick up a target’s longer-term plans.
Players have also asked whether Auspex 1 can detect whether you are being Dominated. The answer is yes—having your free will and/or memories tampered with by another vampire amply constitutes “danger.” However, Auspex 1 can still only detect if you have been Dominated (or are about to be Dominated) within the current scene. It will not detect implanted subliminal commands or earlier memory alterations. Furthermore, as Auspex 1 has to be targeted on a specific vampire, it will not detect uses of Dominate by other characters (unless you use Auspex on them too).
Uncanny Perception (••)
Dice Pool: This power is contested by the target’s Composure + Blood Potency. If the target is aware they are being scrutinized with Auspex (and chooses to resist), every success subtracts one from the number of questions the vampire can ask.
Cost: Characters must spend Vitae to use this power more than once per scene, rather than once per character.
Questions: Characters can also use this power to ask the following questions:
• How many dots does the target have in a Mental or Social Skill or Attribute?
• What is the target’s highest or lowest Mental or Social Skill or Attribute?
• What is the target’s Willpower or Humanity? (If the target follows a Path of Enlightenment, Auspex will reveal this, but not the specific Path or its rating without separate questions asked.)
• What is the target’s Virtue, Vice, Nature, or Demeanor?
• How many dots does the target have in a Discipline?
• What Discipline does the target have the most dots in?
If any Skills, Attributes, or Disciplines are tied for the target’s highest or lowest, the GM tells the player there is a tie between two or more traits, and picks a single trait’s exact dot rating to reveal. Additional questions can be used to find out the other tie results.
Uncanny Perception only detect diablerie if the deed was committed within one night per dot of the victim’s Blood Potency.
Guidelines: Uncanny Perception can only discover information the target is consciously aware of. The vampire cannot, for example, use Auspex 2 on the victim of a failed assassination attempt and ask “Who tried to kill you?” if the victim never got a look at their would-be killer’s face. Discovering information a subject has forgotten or is only subconsciously aware is the province of Auspex 4. Discovering information even the subject doesn’t know may be the province of elder (6+) levels of Auspex.
The Spirit’s Touch (•••)
Using this power on an object or place that carries extreme emotions may prompt a roll to resist frenzy. Targets with sufficiently dark histories, such as the site of a murder, may inflict Conditions like Shaken or Spooked.
Auspex’s +3 bonus from intimate contact applies if the character is intimately familiar with the object or location being examined (for example, their personal laptop or the apartment where they’ve lived for a while).
Lay Open the Mind (••••)
Dice Pool: This power is contested by the target’s Composure + Blood Potency. The vampire can project their surface thoughts to targets without a dice roll, as well as hear any surface thoughts the target willingly chooses to project back (in effect, allowing for telepathic speech). Reading full memories and any thoughts the target does not choose to project require a dice roll.
Lay Open the Mind is much more efficient than Uncanny Perception. For each full memory dragged up, the vampire can discover:
• All of a target’s Mental, Physical, or Social Attributes
• All of a target’s Mental, Physical, or Social Skills
• The target’s dot rating in one Merit per the vampire’s Auspex dots
• The target’s dot rating in one Discipline per the vampire’s Auspex dots
• A single bane
If the vampire drags up full memories, the victim is likely to become suspicious if the memory is unrelated to the situation immediately at hand (and may suspect the use of Auspex if familiar with the Discipline).
Twilight Projection (•••••)
Ghosts, spirits, and other ephemeral entities can see the astral vampire and interact with them as if they were solid. Ephemeral entities can talk, touch, and even fight with the astral vampire as if they were a corporeal entity, and vice versa.
Ephemeral entities use their own rules system, but astrally projecting vampires for simplicity substitute Mental Attributes for Physical ones (Wits replaces Dexterity, Intelligence replaces Strength, and Resolve replaces Stamina). When the vampire loses all of their Health, their astral form is slain and their spirit snaps back to their body, inflicting the Stunned Tilt and lethal damage equal to (Resolve + 5). The vampire also faces a detachment roll at their current Humanity level.
Astrally projecting vampires may also venture into the Upper Umbra, a fantastic and dreamlike realm that mages term the Astral Plane and changelings call the Skein. Visiting this otherworld carries rewards and perils in equal share.
When my energies first surged through me I discovered how to move like lightning
—The Book of Nod
Unleashing their Beast, a vampire can cross vast distances in the blink of an eye, catch a thrown punch before their attacker has even moved a muscle, or snatch a gun barrel away from a man’s temple before he can pull the trigger. Celerity makes a vampire so fast that it’s as if they never have to move at all.
Celerity is re-written to use the following mechanics. Disregard the ones from the Requiem rulebook:
Cost: None or 1 Vitae per active effect
Dice Pool: None
Action: None (for persistent effects) or Reflexive (for active effects)
Duration: Permanent (for persistent effects) or one turn (for active effects)
Celerity has two kinds of effects: persistent and active. A vampire must be aware of incoming attacks or ongoing actions to react to them. If they are restrained, slumbering, or otherwise unable to respond, Celerity offers no advantage.
Persistent: These effects are always on and have no cost.
• Dexterity Bonus: Add the vampire’s dots in Celerity to their Dexterity. This can raise their Dexterity above the normal limits imposed by their Blood Potency.
• Defense Bonus: If a Firearms attack would deny the vampire their normal Defense, the attacker still takes a penalty on their attack equal to (double the vampire’s Celerity dots) or the vampire’s normal Defense, whichever is less.
• Reduce Time: Vampires with Celerity can accomplish physical feats in a fraction of the time it takes mortals. Divide the amount of time per roll on extended physical actions by (vampire’s Celerity dots + 1), to a minimum of one turn.
Example: Administering first aid is a task that takes one minute per roll, so a vampire with Celerity 1 would take 30 seconds per roll and a vampire with Celerity 5 would only take 10 seconds per roll.
In foot chases and other contests of physical speed that normally allow one dice roll per turn, the vampire may make an additional number of rolls per turn equal to their Celerity dots. This does not allow the vampire to make extra attacks during combat.
Interrupt: By spending Vitae, Celerity allows for bursts of speed faster than the eye can perceive, allowing them to interrupt the action of another character with a brief action of their own. This could be an attack, making it possible to disable an opponent in mid-action. It may be movement, avoiding harm by using the Dodge action to shift out of reach. Or it could be any other instant action, like activating a Discipline or tossing a grenade. However, the vampire is still limited to one instant action. They cannot use Celerity to make two attacks, or an attack followed by another instant action. If the vampire attempts to interrupt another character with Celerity, they enter a Clash of Wills. If the vampire loses, their interrupting action does not take place.
Due to the online format we play over, the decision to interrupt is made after the other character’s action is described and any dice are rolled. In effect, the action is retconned into not having happened. The vampire’s decision to interrupt must be made before any further actions are posted in the in-character Hangout. Once any further actions are posted, the initial action can no longer be interrupted and retconned.
An interrupted character must continue their declared action, if it’s still possible. If the action is no longer possible, the character takes no action. Alternatively, that character’s player may declare their action a dramatic failure and take a Beat. Celerity cannot interrupt reflexive actions or actions of which the character was unaware. Finally, using Celerity in this way is exhausting; the vampire spends a Willpower point in addition to the Vitae cost.
The vampire may not use Celerity to interrupt another character’s actions more than once per turn.
GM’s Note: Celerity has this additional power in the Requiem rulebook: “Multiply their speed by their dots in Celerity plus one. Moving in this way is sudden, jarring, the vampire appears to shift from point to point without crossing the space in-between. She may use this to briefly avoid detection or launch surprise attacks.”
GM’s Commentary: Revamped Physical Disciplines: For those curious about how and why I redesigned our game’s physical Disciplines, my first goal was to beef them up to the same level as V20’s Potence, Fortitude, and Celerity. The physical Disciplines in V20 provide a bigger numbers boost than Requiem 2e’s do—Potence, for instance, provides automatic successes on rolls rather than a dice bonus. I implemented that in a roundabout way by having Vigor grant a weapon bonus, which is effectively the same thing as additional automatic successes. The Disciplines still aren’t quite the same—Vigor’s “automatic successes” don’t apply to all Strength-based rolls, and dice probabilities don’t follow the same math in V20, so getting more successes doesn’t mean quite the same thing in both games.
The Ravnos are known as masters of illusion, although the reason why is lost to history. Rumors abound of Deceiver ghûls, rakshasas, and shapeshifters, while other Ravnos attribute it to the self-enlightened state of seeing past the maya of the world. Whatever its origins, Chimerstry remains a potent and powerful weapon for the Deceivers. The Discipline is, fundamentally, an art of conjuration that converts the vampire’s will into phantoms that confound the senses and technology alike. Even vampires fall under the sway of the Ravnos’ illusory world, unless they have a strong enough grasp of Auspex. The Ravnos often use this power to swindle and seduce their victims into acts that work out badly for the victim (but great for the Ravnos).
Piercing Chimerstry: There are several ways for characters to see through illusions created by Chimerstry.
Clash of Wills: Any character with Auspex can make an immediate Clash of Wills to see through the vampire’s illusions. Interestingly, other vampires with Chimerstry can also make this Clash of Wills (vampires with Auspex and Chimerstry use whichever dice pool is higher). The Ravnos often sardonically explain this phenomenon with, “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”
Disbelief: Victims who encounter proof that an illusion isn’t real can make a reflexive Perception roll (target successes vary by the illusion’s believability) to see through it. Proof can be either direct sensory interaction (e.g., a person who attempts to lean against an illusionary wall and passes through it), or the illusion being so explicitly incredible that the victim has cause to doubt its reality (e.g., dragons breathing fire or gravity working in reverse).
|1||Completely impossible (fire-breathing dragons in a shopping mall)|
|2||Unlikely (a child driving a car)|
|3||Possible (a mass shooting in a shopping mall)|
|4||Probable (seeing an acquaintance at a location they are known to frequent)|
|5||Extremely probable (seeing a known dope fiend trying to score some meth)|
Characters who suspect an illusion is present but have no proof can spend an instant action to make their Perception roll. The target successes in this case is equal to the illusion’s believability or the Ravnos’ Chimerstry dots, whichever is higher. Sometimes, frequent targets of Chimerstry end up trusting none of their senses and attempting to disbelieve everything around them (quite often to the amusement of the Ravnos).
Natural Immunity: Individuals to whom deception is foreign, such as young children and the mentally ill, can see through Chimerstry. Adults of sound mind who are simply poor liars do not count for this purpose—it is the mental capacity to conceive of engaging in protracted falsehood at all that is relevant. For the same reason, children who are practiced liars cannot see through Chimerstry.
Sunlight: A Ravnos’ illusions cannot survive the light of truth. Any Chimerstry-created illusion that comes into contact with natural sunlight is immediately dispelled.
Ignis Fatuus (•)
Dice Pool: None
Duration: Scene or until another person sees through it or the vampire leaves the illusion’s vicinity (such as stepping out of the room). The vampire may also end the illusion at any time with no effort.
The vampire may conjure a minor, static mirage that confounds one sense. For instance, he may evoke a sulfurous stench, the appearance of stigmata, or the shatter of broken glass. The illusion may be given slight animation. Water can appear to flow or a computer screen can flicker, but the illusion will not react to interaction. The illusion’s volume is limited to roughly 20 cubic feet (half a cubic meter) per Blood Potency dot.
Fata Morgana (••)
Cost: 1 Vitae
Fata Morgana increases the effect of Ignis Fatuus. The vampire can now create illusions that confound all five senses, though they remain static. For example, the vampire could make a filthy cellar appear as an opulent ballroom. They could even include a glittering chandelier, but not a score of graceful dancers. Again, the illusion has no solid presence, though it’s easy enough to fool an enraptured visitor with suggestions of what they might expect. A bucket of brackish water is as cool as chilled champagne, after all.
Lilith then showed me […] how she commands obedience
—The Book of Nod
Dominate has repeatedly proven itself to be one of the most complex and powerful Disciplines in the game. The following guidelines aim to clarify its use.
Concealing Dominate Use: A vampire can conceal Dominate-issued commands within normal sentences and have only a single word (or a single uninterrupted sequence of words) carry the full force of their Beast behind it. For example, a vampire could say, “Hello, Tom. When I heard you were back in town I couldn’t wait to stop by,” when their command is really just “stop.”
Victims who pass their Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance roll can feel that the vampire tried to influence their minds, and will react accordingly. Ordinary mortals probably won’t be able to speak of their experience in logical terms; they just know that doing what the vampire said “felt like a really good idea.”
Third parties can make a Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge) + Dominate roll contested by the vampire’s (Manipulation or Composure) + Dominate to notice that the vampire is using Dominate in ordinary conversation (it’s easier for practitioners of the Discipline to recognize its use). Bystanders who don’t know the Discipline for what it is can only notice that the vampire seems to be placing particular emphasis on certain words.
Eye Contact: Dominate requires a vampire make eye contact with their victims in order to issue commands. That contact is one-way—the victim needs to see the vampire’s eyes, but not vice versa. This contact is possible through simple barriers like sunglasses (even mirrored) or tinted windows, but does not work when looking at a video feed rather than the vampire themselves.
Catching the eyes of someone actively attempting to avoid the vampire’s gaze requires a (Presence or Resolve) + Intimidation roll vs. the target’s (Wits or Resolve) + Composure. If the victim is attempting to avoid the vampire’s gaze during combat (and instead looking at their body, watching their shadow, tracking them in a reflective surface, etc.) this imposes the Blinded Tilt (one eye) on the victim. It is of course impossible to catch the eyes of someone squeezing their eyes shut or wearing a blindfold, but that person should be easy prey to other tactics.
Interrogations: Vampires cannot use Dominate to extract information, as the victim becomes a mindless puppet while under its influence. For example, a victim given the command to “tell me what you know about the assassin” might respond “what you know about the assassin” or simply babble random word salad. Auspex, not Dominate, is meant to be the king Discipline at gathering information. (Majesty is arguably the next-most useful, as it makes the victim genuinely like and trust the vampire. Extracting information is another area where Dominate’s “little brother” actually performs better than its sibling.)
Invalid Commands: Giving an invalid command to someone with Dominate (ie, one with too many words or which is too open to individual interpretation) causes any imposed Conditions to immediately resolve. Players who aren’t sure whether a particular command is valid can ask the GM in the OOC room.
Suicidal Commands: Dominate can’t be used to issue commands the victim would rather die than obey. This includes obviously self-destructive orders (such as “Shoot yourself in the head”), but also extends to orders that directly harm people or causes the victim would give their life to protect (such as “Kill your own children.”) Victims never follow such orders, and receive an immediate Resolve + Blood Potency roll at a penalty equal to the vampire’s Dominate dots to break free of the vampire’s control.
Indirect harm, however, is still possible, as commands issued via Dominate are divorced from context. A vampire might not be able to command a victim to kill their own children, but they could still command the victim to tie the children up, hand over a loaded gun, and stand idly by as the vampire shoots them, as none of those individual commands directly harm the children.
Verbal Commands: Unless the vampire has supernatural means of communicating at their disposal (such as Auspex 4, which does not circumvent the requirement for eye contact), they must command the victim verbally. The victim must be able to hear the vampire and understand their language.
• How does the Kiss work with Dominate? Since it inflicts damages, does it resolve the Mesmerized Condition? Sort of. The Kiss does not immediately resolve Mesmerized, since unlike most forms of damage, the experience is actively pleasurable for the victim. The victim can however make a Resolve + Composure roll (DC equal to the vampire’s Dominate dots) to “snap out of it” and resolve the Condition once they take enough damage to inflict wound penalties, and every turn thereafter that the vampire continues to feed on them.
• Can I use Dominate to make a victim see something that isn’t really there, like “I have an FBI badge”? No. Dominate can issue commands for the victim to physically obey (i.e., “Shoot that man”), or it can alter past memories (“That man shot himself”). Dominate cannot alter a victim’s immediate sensory perceptions. You could give the victim a fake memory about seeing FBI badge, but you can’t command them to “believe” there is an FBI badge physically in front of them when there is no such badge. Use Chimerstry for that.
• Can Dominate make a victim kill themselves if they actually are suicidal? Yes, if they really do want to die.
• Can I use Dominate to change a victim’s beliefs or opinions? No—a fact for which PCs should be most thankful.
• Can I use Dominate to make a victim think they changed their mind about something? Dominate can give a victim false memories. So if your victim is a vegetarian, you can give them a false memory where they ate a hamburger. That won’t mean they suddenly like eating meat—they’ll probably feel guilty, grossed out, or just plain bewildered. (For a more horrific variation, Dominate can be used to give a victim fake memories of murdering their family—but their reaction will probably be overwhelming guilt rather than newfound love for committing serial murder.) As in the above QA, Dominate cannot change a person’s beliefs. Also, if you’re only using Dominate 1, keep in mind that options so far as fake memories are pretty limited with only four words and a “current scene only” time limit. Dominate 1 is much better at editing details within existing memories than fabricating entirely new ones.
Action: Characters can mesmerize and command a victim in the same turn if their command is only one word long. Doing so instantly resolves the Mesmerized Condition.
Commands: A popular command to give with Dominate is “Sleep”. The victim falls comatose and does not awaken until the end of the scene. Inflicting any amount of damage or using other potent means of rousing someone (ie, smelling salts) can prematurely awaken the victim.
Exceptional Success: As an alternative to issuing a command in the same turn as mesmerizing the victim, the vampire can alter their memories as far back as the start of the current night. She is still limited to four-word alterations.
False Memory Guidelines: A false memory is valid if all of its details make sense within the victim’s immediate context (ie, their present surroundings, and no earlier in time than the current scene). For instance, “You killed that man” is a valid memory if there’s a still-bloody corpse in the room. “You killed that man” is invalid if the corpse is a dessicated skeleton, since there’s no way the victim could have killed him during the current scene. Likewise, “You killed your family” isn’t a valid memory if their corpses aren’t in the room, because there’s nothing to base a narrative off of.
That isn’t to say, however, that a fake memory’s narrative needs to be airtight. It doesn’t. It only needs to make sense on an immediate, visceral level. For instance, “You killed that man” is a valid memory if there’s a bloody corpse in front of the victim. But closer inspection might reveal all sorts of contradictory details—like if the corpse is dead from a bullet wound, but the victim’s prints aren’t on the weapon, or if there’s no blood on the victim’s clothes despite the close-range murder, or if the angle of the gunshots suggests it was fired by someone taller or shorter than the victim, etc. Compelling proof can reveal a memory as false (per the resolution criteria for the False Memories Condition). It’s also the sort of experience that can cause someone to doubt their own sanity, hence why it’s a breaking point—only someone with a strong sense of self will be able to accept that their own experiences weren’t real and set aside the related emotions.
I’ve said this before to players, but it’s a foolish vampire who relies on Dominate alone to get things done. Mundane detective/subterfuge work can go a long ways in establishing a believable narrative.
Resisting Dominate: Another vampire can fortify themselves against Mesmerize with their predatory aura (see Lashing Out, p. 92). If they succeed, they are unaffected by Mesmerize. If the vampire has equal or higher Blood Potency than the dominating vampire, they can attempt to lash out after every command they attempt to fulfill. If they succeed, they immediately resolve the Mesmerized Condition.
Example: A Blood Potency 1 vampire rolls Attribute + Skill + Dominate to Dominate a Blood Potency 2 vampire with Mesmerize. The BP 2 vampire lashes out with his predatory aura, but the BP 1 vampire gets lucky and wins the contested roll (they also have average luck when his Dominate dice pool beats the vampire’s Resolve + Blood Potency). The BP 1 vampire commands the Mesmerized BP 2 vampire to forget a recent memory. That takes, but the BP 2 vampire can lash out with his predatory aura again to resolve the Mesmerized Condition. Given his dice pools, and the fact the BP 1 vampire needs to spend Willpower on every predatory aura roll, the BP 2 vampire is eventually going to snap out…
GM’s Commentary: Dominate is a very powerful Discipline, both as weapon against other characters and for the impact it can have on plots. In Masquerade, Dominate’s power was tempered by generation: you could only Dominate another vampire if they were higher generation than you. This kept Dominate a tool of the elders, since they were almost always lower generation than neonates.
If the vampire attempts to make a victim kill themselves, the victim rolls Resolve + Blood Potency – the vampire’s Dominate as a reflexive action.
On a successful Possession roll, the vampire can use any purely mental Disciplines they have dots in while possessing the victim. Mental Disciplines include Auspex, Chimerstry, Dementation, Dominate, Majesty, and Obfuscate. Bloodline Disciplines may be decided on a case-by-case basis.
On an exceptional success, the vampire can use any Disciplines they have dots in while possessing the victim.
Any Vitae the vampire would spend is subtracted from their own body’s reserve. If the victim is a ghoul or another vampire, the vampire may spend their Vitae instead.
Lilith then showed me […] how she demands respect
—The Book of Nod
Detecting Majesty: Although Majesty can be used in obvious ways, it is an inherently subtle Discipline (one of the advantages it has over Dominate). Characters who want to detect if someone is being affected by Majesty must be aware of the supernatural and roll Wits + Empathy contested by the vampire’s original Majesty roll result. The Empathy roll may take a bonus if victims are being made to behave in out of character ways, such as if an unwashed Caitiff vagrant is using Awe to make a hit at a high society soiree.
Idol does not require an Empathy roll to detect. Its use is extremely obvious.
Range: Players have asked about this point. Majesty cannot be used over phones, Skype calls, live video feeds, etc. The vampire has to be physically present in the same room (or other equivalently close space) as their victim to use Majesty on them. That said, the effects of existing Majesty applications do persist—a victim who’s been Enthralled by a vampire and calls them over the phone will still be Enthralled.
Characters using Awe can choose to affect a limited number of targets or to exclude specific characters from Awe’s effects.
This isn’t a house rule, but bears mentioning as it’s implicitly stated in a different section of the rulebook (and not obvious here). Mortals/ghouls can attempt to resist Awe in the same manner vampires can, although their dice pool is lower and doing so always requires them to spend a Willpower point, as their “Blood Potency” is lower than any vampire’s.
Awe’s range/area of effect is equal to a large room. Someone who is watching the vampire through a pair of binoculars at the other end of a street, for example, is unaffected.
This power is contested by Composure + Blood Potency.
This power is contested by Composure + Blood Potency.
Revised the second and third paragraphs of this power as follows:
Anyone affected by the vampire’s Awe may spend a Willpower point to roll Composure + Blood Potency. If they roll as many successes as the vampire’s Majesty dots, they can take a single action that would harm or embarrass the vampire. Unless they succeed, they can’t so much as crack a joke at his expense.
If the vampire has inflicted the Charmed Condition on anyone in their presence, the victim must make a reflexive Composure + Blood Potency roll when the vampire activates Idol. If the victim rolls fewer successes than the vampire’s Majesty dots, they acquire the Enthralled Condition for the remainder of the scene. People who the vampire has already Enthralled cannot spend Willpower to act against them.
Lilith then showed me how she hides herself from hunters
—The Book of Nod
Characters add their Obfuscate dots as a bonus to Stealth rolls. This overlaps (does not stack) with the Dexterity bonus granted by Celerity.
Piercing Obfuscate: There are several ways for characters without Auspex (or who fail their Clash of Wills) to find an Obfuscated vampire.
Animals: Animals who succeed on Perception checks contested by the vampire’s Dexterity + Stealth may act frightened and skittish, particularly if the vampire is of low Humanity. Characters can observe this agitation by succeeding on a Wits + Animal Ken roll. This roll takes a bonus equal to the vampire’s Social penalty from low Humanity.
Natural Immunity: Individuals to whom deception is foreign, such as young children and the mentally ill, can see through Obfuscate. Adults of sound (or at least functionally sound) mental health who are simply poor liars do not count for this purpose—it is the mental capacity to conceive of engaging in protracted falsehood at all that is relevant. For the same reason, children who are practiced fibbers will not see through Obfuscate.
GM’s Commentary: “Kids can see through Obfuscate” was written in ‘90s-era VtM books and wasn’t updated in V20. It’s also somewhat dated, as kids lie all the time. The key distinction is whether they lie with knowing intent and have the capacity to recognize their lie’s long-term consequences. A toddler who insists something false is true out of strong emotion (“He ate my cookie!”) can see through Obfuscate, but not a grade schooler who regularly lies to their parents about doing their homework. For any ambiguous cases (though I doubt such will ever come up in-game), we’re fortunate to have a child psychologist among our roster of players.
Deliberate Effort: Characters who suspect the vampire is present and are actively trying to find them can make an extended Perception roll, requiring successes equal to (vampire’s Obfuscate dots x 5).
If the vampire is aware they are being observed, this Perception roll is contested by the vampire’s Dexterity + Stealth + Obfuscate.
Characters can conceal their observation by making a Dexterity + Stealth or Composure + Subterfuge roll contested by the vampire’s Perception or Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge). On a success, the character’s Perception rolls are non-contested.
Characters who find a vampire using Obfuscate 1-2 treat them as fully visible. Characters who find a vampire using Obfuscate 3 are treated as having the Blinded Tilt with respect to the vampire. If the vampire manages to distract or disappear from the characters (which may call for further rolls) they must make another extended Perception roll to find the vampire again.
Cloak of Night (•••)
If the vampire vanishes in front of others, roll Dexterity + Stealth + Obfuscate. Any character with lower Composure + Blood Potency dots than the vampire’s successes does not notice their disappearance and forgets they were there to begin with.
Per developer Rose Bailey’s forum post, the following points also apply:
Ignore the section on canny observers following the vampire. It’s subsumed by “Piercing Obfuscate” above.
• Characters can make themselves completely vanish. Barring a Clash of Wills, the way to pierce this is an extended action.
• Characters can make someone else disappear, using Touch of Shadow and its associated rules. This means that observers may make a Wits + Composure – Obfuscate roll.
The Familiar Stranger (••••)
How attractive a character Obfuscated through this power appears is relative to their Presence and Humanity. A Nosferatu with Humanity 2 will appear mortal, but still suffer the attendant -5 to Social rolls from low Humanity (and depending on their Presence, may either look ugly as sin or horrifically entrancing). A Nosferatu with Humanity 7+ (or who has spent Vitae on Blush of Life) will have average looks unless they have above average Presence.
Then, Awakening myself further, I found the way to alter forms
—The Book of Nod
Unmarked Grave (•)
The vampire is trapped underground if someone salts the patch of earth they disappeared into.
Primeval Miasma (•••••)
“The world outside their form is blurred and muted” means the vampire takes a -3 penalty to Perception rolls not related to their Kindred senses (ie, detecting blood). Making out fine details also may require Perception roll where they normally may not (i.e., overhearing conversations or reading text).
When my energies first surged through me I discovered […] how to be as stone
—The Book of Nod
The Kindred are walking corpses, free of the frailties of a mortal form. Their bodies are capable of great endurance, but Resilience harnesses the Beast to take that endurance beyond “great” and into “impossible.” With Resilience a vampire could continue to act even when his body has been reduced to little more than bone and tendon.
Resilience is re-written to use the following mechanics. Disregard the ones from the Requiem rulebook:
Dice Pool: None
Resilience has several different effects:
• Armor: The vampire gains a general armor rating equal to his Resilience dots. This overlaps (does not stack) with other sources of armor. This armor does not protect against damage from fire or other acquired banes and does nothing to reduce the visual and superficial signs of injury. Removed damage appears to be dealt, but resisted wounds do not inhibit the vampire physically in any way, though in a social context they likely create some difficulties. All superficial wounds may be healed completely for one Vitae whenever they next slumber. If an injury specifically removes a limb, an eye, or so on, the vampire suffers logical impairments from the injuries. This method of reducing damage makes it more difficult to stake a vampire.
• Efficient Healing: Whenever the vampire spends Vitae to heal aggravated damage, roll double their Resilience dots as a dice pool. Every success immediately heals an additional point of aggravated damage at no Vitae cost. (Kudos to Jack for his idea of improving Resilience by making it a resource saver.)
• Stamina Bonus: Add the vampire’s dots in Resilience to his Stamina. This may raise a character’s Stamina above the normal limits imposed by his Blood Potency.
GM Commentary: Pete once made a good point that Resilience’s extra Health levels are only useful when you are low on Health. If you have a normal 7 Health and an opponent does 6 damage to you over the course of a fight, having extra Health from Resilience offers no benefit. This “extra hit points are only useful when you’re out of regular hit points” scenario is true in multiple game systems, but one way extra Health comes in handy under the Storytelling rules is by forestalling wound penalties. Having more than 7 Health won’t impact whether you stay conscious in a 6 damage fight, but walking around with 6 damage means a 7 Health character takes −2 on all dice pools. Having just a dot of Resilience reduces those penalties to −1, and having two dots eliminates them altogether—at least until you take 7 damage. The more Resilience dots you have, the longer it takes for dice penalties to kick in.
Vicissitude is the signature power of the Tzimisce, and is rarely shared outside the clan (though it is known to some other Cainites of the Sabbat). Similar to Protean in some ways, Vicissitude allows vampires to shape and sculpt flesh and bone.
Vicissitude is a particularly intimate Discipline. Like a sculptor working clay, it requires touch, sometimes gentle, most often forceful. Contrary to popular belief, bones do not break themselves, nor does muscle simply realign itself. The vampire must make that happen, and it hurts. Simple changes can be wrought relatively quickly; a master practitioner can de-glove a forearm of flesh and muscle and twist the underlying bone into a deadly spear with but a single rending motion. Less skilled Tzimisce, though, might labor all night long to make such an alteration. More complicated visions, particularly those with any degree of subtlety, take time, sometimes nights, or even weeks.
Changes wrought by Vicissitude are permanent, with only rare exceptions. Victims of equal or higher Blood Potency than the vampire can spend Vitae to heal alterations in the same manner as they heal aggravated wounds. Furthermore, the re-application of Vicissitude can be used to restore a subject to their former self, though such an endeavor requires a considerable amount of skill and time, and the end result is often imperfect. Finally, Vicissitude cannot permanently alter or undo deformities that are inherent to other vampires’ clan banes: the Nosferatu’s hideous visage, the bestial features of a Gangrel, and so on. These disfigurements can be hidden for a time, but the flesh inevitably warps back to its original form (and sometimes an even uglier one) within a single scene. The ancient curses of these clans may not be circumvented through Vicissitude.
Vicissitude cannot be used to heal. Indeed, its very use is often damaging, and always invasive. After, a subject usually needs time to heal from the trauma of their shaping. Unfortunately for them, the physical pain is the least of their worries, a temporary inconvenience compared to adjustment of life within a new, often unrecognizable, body.
There are rumors that Vicissitude is a disease rather than a “normal” Discipline, but only the fiends know for sure, and they aren’t talking.
Malleable Visage (•)
The vampire may alter their own body in simple, cosmetic ways. They can make themselves thinner or stockier. They can change their voice by reshaping their larynx. They can adopt new skin tone, new eye color, new hair, and so on. The process is not simple; it requires the vampire to actually craft these changes in their own form, which can be disturbing and painful. True to its name, only flesh (including muscle, fat, and cartilage) can be manipulated with Malleable Visage.
Cost: 1 Vitae
Dice Pool: Intelligence + (Crafts or Medicine) + Vicissitude
Action: Extended. Each roll represents one hour of work.
Dramatic Failure: The modification completely fails, and the Vitae spent to perform it is wasted. The vampire physically disfigures themselves and gains a Persistent Condition, takes one point of lethal damage for every five success already accumulated on the extended action, or faces another, similar setback.
Failure: The vampire’s flesh is unable to accept the desired modification.
Fail Forward: The vampire stumbles but continues on. They take one point of lethal damage for every five successes they fell short of completing the extended action.
Success: The vampire makes the desired modification to their flesh. Modifications require anywhere from 5 to 25 successes depending on their scope and complexity. Potential ones include:
• Change their skin tone, eye color, hair, weight, build, sex, voice, and similar physical features. The vampire cannot change their height by more than several inches, as they can only alter flesh, not bone.
• Disguise themselves as someone else through the above alterations. Characters can spot flaws in the vampire’s disguise with a Perception roll requiring a number of successes equal to (vampire’s accumulated successes / 5). Characters familiar with the vampire or the subject of their disguise may take a bonus on this roll.
• Increase or decrease Physical Attributes, ignoring the normal restrictions on vampires altering their bodies. Buying new Attributes still costs Experiences as normal. Lowering Attributes refunds equivalent Experiences.
• Inflict or remove Persistent Physical Conditions, such as Blind, Mute, Disabled, Color Blind, and any other Conditions that are not bone-deep.
• Purchase or remove Physical Merits.
• Make other permanent bodily alterations, such as piercings or tattoos.
• Any other alteration in line with the above examples.
Exceptional Success: The vampire makes great strides in achieving the modification. They can reduce the target number of successes by (three times Vicissitude dots), reduce the time per roll to half an hour, or apply the Inspired Condition if they roll enough successes to achieve the modification.
When my energies first surged through me I discovered […] how to borrow the strength of the earth
—The Book of Nod
While all Kindred possess the power to bolster their might in short bursts, Vigor allows some vampires to kick like a freight train or rend steel with their bare hands. The Beast tunes every bone, tendon and muscle fiber to its highest performance , allowing the night’s most fearsome predator to strut through the jungle of his choosing without fear of lesser, weaker creatures.
Vigor is re-written to use the following mechanics. Disregard the ones from the Requiem rulebook:
Dice Pool: None
Vigor has several different effects:
• Crushing Blows: The vampire deals lethal damage with their unarmed attacks (though per the rules for Immortality, Injury, and Mortality, this is downgraded to bashing against other vampires). Additionally, add the vampire’s dots in Vigor as a weapon bonus to all Athletics, Brawl, and Weaponry attacks. This overlaps (does not stack) with a weapon’s existing weapon bonus. Vigor puts enormous strain on weapons, especially those not intended for heavy hitting. Improvised weapons take one point of damage for every dot of Vigor over that tool’s Durability during any turn the tool is used to make an attack.
• Prodigious Leaps: The vampire can automatically jump a number of feet equal to nine times their Vigor dots vertically, and 15 times their Vigor dots horizontally, without a roll. The vampire needs no run-up to make these leaps. Whenever the vampire makes a Strength + Athletics roll to jump, multiply their successes by (her Vigor dots + 1).
• Strength Bonus: Add the vampire’s dots in Vigor to their Strength. This can raise their Strength above the normal limits imposed by their Blood Potency.
See this page for the changes and additions made to Devotions.
See this page for the changes and additions made to Blood Sorcery.
The Warm Face (••)
A Dragon with this Coil also treats their Humanity score as 10 for purposes of what times they rise during the evening and goes to sleep at dawn.
Sun’s Forgotten Kiss (•••••)
A Dragon with this Coil takes damage from sunlight once every minute, regardless of their Blood Potency. For each extra Vitae they spend the Dragon treats their Humanity as two dots higher, to a maximum of ten dots, when determining how much damage they take from sunlight.
The Vast Dynasty (•••••)
The Embrace is already a Humanity 2 breaking point under our house rules. A Dragon with this Coil does not face a breaking point for the Embrace.
Rules of the Night
Skills and Specialties: Some Skills require a specific Specialty to avoid the unskilled penalty, even with basic competence in that Skill. Shooting a rocket-propelled grenade without the Heavy Weapons Firearms Specialty is an example of this, as is piloting an airplane without the Pilot Aircraft Specialty for the Drive Skill, or attempting to perform brain surgery without the Neurosurgery Specialty for the Medicine Skill.
Stacking Specialties: The rules don’t say anything on this, but multiple Specialties can apply to a single roll. For example, someone with Socialize (Defusing Tensions, Formal Events) who attempts to defuse tensions at a formal event would roll two extra dice.
As mentioned earlier, characters don’t need to bother recording this trait.
GM’s Commentary: One thing that I liked from the V5 playtest is the simplicity of the dice rolling system. The GM decides how hard a task is (aka, how many successes it requires), the player rolls their dice, and that’s it. No distinctions between instant, contested, or extended rolls. Just “how hard does the GM think this is.” It also fixes one of the major beefs I have with the Storytelling System, which is that it’s impossible to fail instant action rolls at high enough dice pools, since penalties cap at -5 (and most penalties shouldn’t even be that high). GMs have to make a roll extended and/or contested if they want to challenge characters. These below rules aim to replicate V5’s idea.
The distinction between contested and non-contested actions is eliminated. When a character attempts an action, the GM sets a target number of successes based on how difficult it is.
|1||A challenge that demands active effort (i.e., a dice roll). Unskilled people (1 die) find these tasks hard, but can succeed with a bit of luck. Novices (2-4 dice) meet them routinely and highly skilled people (5+ dice) find them easy.|
|2||Something complex enough to consult a pro over. These tasks require heroic effort from unskilled people (1 die) and are hard for novices (2-4 dice). Professionals (5-7 dice) accomplish these sorts of things routinely, and experts (8-10 dice) can do them in their sleep.|
|3||Something so hard that it warrants bringing in a certified expert. Experts (8-10 dice) meet these challenges routinely, while professionals (5-7 dice) find them hard but doable. Novices (2-4 dice) are pushed their utmost limits. Unskilled people (1 die) find these challenges nigh-impossible.|
|4||A challenge unfathomable to ordinary people. Even experts (8-10) find them tough. Professionals (5-7 dice) are in over their heads and must muster heroic effort to carry through. Novices (2-4 dice) and unskilled people (1 die) find these feats nigh-impossible.|
|5||A feat that is unfathomable to skilled as well as ordinary people. Even experts (8-10 dice) who attempt these challenges are in over their heads and will be pushed to their utmost limits. Such tasks are nigh-impossible to anyone else.)|
“Easy” means the GM shouldn’t even call for a dice roll. The character can do this without much effort.
“Routine” means the character has enough training to regularly meet these sorts of challenges. If they aren’t stressed or distracted (allowing them to take 1/3), they have a high enough dice pool to succeed. If they roll, they have 50/50 odds of succeeding, which Willpower and circumstance bonuses.
“Hard” means the character is more likely to fail than succeed if they roll their unmodified dice pool. Getting help or spending Willpower makes these tasks routine. Getting both makes them easy.
“Heroic” means the character is in over their head, and has to go all-out to even have a chance at success. Even spending Willpower and getting help probably only gives them 50-50 odds.
“Nigh-impossible” means exactly that. The character can only succeed with an incredible streak of luck.
An action can require more than five successes, but these sorts of nigh-mythical feats are virtually possible for mortal characters—and many supernatural ones.
Circumstance Modifiers: These still exist and can be used whenever the GM feels like it. Mechanically, increasing or decreasing an action’s difficult by one success is the same net effect as imposing a +3 circumstance bonus or penalty (since three dice have near-100% odds of turning up a single success).
Contested Rolls: Contested dice rolls are an effectively redundant mechanic with these rules. Instead of rolling dice for NPCs, GMs should simply determine difficulties using the average number of successes for their dice pools (at least most of the time). PCs who engage in contests against other PCs should still use the normal system for contested actions.
|Dice Pool||Average Successes|
|Every further 1-3||+1|
GM Commentary: NPCs Gimped?: As mortal characters cannot have dice pools over 11, and most mortals should have pools well below that, mortal NPCs would seem to have an effective cap of 3-4 for how high their target successes can be. However, circumstance modifiers can (and should) still play an important role in determining difficulties. Striking a deal with a stubborn-minded mob boss might “only” take 3 successes on the Persuasion roll, but if the PCs offer him particularly unfavorable terms, the difficulty could climb to 4 or even 5.
GM Commentary: Rolling Dice and NPCs: Outside of combats, the GM prefers to roll dice for NPCs as infrequently as possible. That’s been a trend in various indie game systems and places greater significance on the roll results players get.
Extended Rolls: Extended actions aren’t particularly distinct from instant actions under this system. GMs can still use extended actions, however, if they wish to make a challenge more prolonged than a single dice roll, or if the challenge involves a race against time in addition to its target successes (in which case each dice roll takes X amount of time). To determine an extended action’s target successes, simply multiply the action’s normal target successes by 5.
GM Commentary: Extended actions are neither easier nor harder for PCs under these rules—simply more drawn out. This has the consequence of increasing the importance of skill relative to luck, as more dice rolls means that statistical averages are more likely to kick in (and which in turn favors characters with higher dice pools). PCs with high Willpower, or at least high current reserves of Willpower, also enjoy a further advantage on an extended actions.
Taking 1/3: Under routine circumstances—when your character is not under any pressure—instead of rolling the dice for a check, you may choose to calculate your result as if you had rolled one success for every three dice (round down at .33s, and round up at .66s). This ensures one success for dice pools of 2 to 4, two successes for 5 to 7, etc.
The GM decides when circumstances are suitable for performing a task as a routine check. Routine checks help speed-up game play and smooth-out some of the variability of dice rolling in situations where a character would be expected to perform at a steady, reliable level.
If a character’s routine check result is not up to a task, the player still has the option to roll the dice, since the task is by definition not routine for that character. The idea behind routine checks is to eliminate dice rolling (and possible failures) for things competent characters should be able to accomplish on a regular basis, while still having a good idea of the characters’ capabilities.
Dramatic Failure: The character rolls no successes and at least one of their dice turns up a 1, or they roll 3+ fewer successes than the task requires. (For example, a character who attempts a task requiring 4 successes gets a botch if they roll only 1 success.) Dramatic failures (also called botches) with meaningful consequences grant a Beat.
Failure: The character rolls fewer successes than the target successes.
Fail Forward: We use this mechanic from 13th Age (and a variety of other games that call it by different name), which describes it as follows:
A simple but powerful improvement you can make to your game is to redefine failure as “things go wrong” instead of “the PC isn’t good enough.” Ron Edwards, Luke Crane, and other indie RPG designers have championed this idea, and they’re exactly right. You can call it “fail forward” or “no whiffing.” The traditional way to interpret a failure is to see it as the character not being up to the task at hand. A low roll on the d20 implies some unexpectedly poor showing on the character’s account. This interpretation is natural, and in practice we still use it quite often: occasionally we want failure to mean sheer failure and nothing but. That’s particularly true when characters are attempting skill rolls as part of a battle; when the rogue tries to be stealthy in the middle of a fight and fails we’re generally not failing them forward.
But outside of battle, true failure tends to slow action down rather than move the action along. A more constructive way to interpret failure is as a near-success or event that happens to carry unwanted consequences or side effects. The character probably still fails to achieve the desired goal, but that’s because something happens on the way to the goal rather than because nothing happens. Suppose a player makes a Charisma check to have their rogue rustle up some clues as to where a certain monk of the black dragon might be hiding. The player fails the check. Traditionally, the GM would rule that the character had failed to find any information. With 13th Age, we encourage you to rule that the character does indeed find clues as to the monk’s location, but with unexpectedly bad results. Most likely, word has gotten to the monk that the rogue is looking for them, and they either escape before their lair is found, or prepare for the group, either setting up an ambush or leaving a trap. The failure means that interesting things happen.
That’s basically it. With fail forward, the character either: a) succeeds but encounters some new complication or cost to offset the victory b) would have succeeded, but fails because something external happens, rather than the PC being not good enough. For example, Em makes a Manipulation + Persuasion roll to seduce and eventually swindle a woman at a posh event. The woman is charmed by him… but she turns out to be a Boggs, and likes Em so much that she wants to bring him back home to indulge in some recreational cannibalism. (In contrast, a failure would mean she simply wasn’t interested in Em, and a botch might mean she took an immediately hostile interest after he said the wrong thing.)
Failed dice rolls can fail forward instead essentially whenever the GM feels like it will make for a better scene. Not all rolls will fail forward. Players who want certain rolls to fail forward are always free to say as much.
Success: The character rolls enough successes to meet or exceed the target successes.
Exceptional Success: The character exceeds the target successes by 3+ successes. At the GM’s discretion, characters can get outcomes besides beneficial Conditions on an exceptional success. For every additional three successes a character achieves, they get an even better outcome of some kind. In effect, they get an exceptional exceptional success at +6 successes, an exceptional exceptional exceptional success on +9, etc.
Success into Failure: Players may accept a Beat to turn a failure into a dramatic failure, a success into a failure, or an exceptional success into a success.
Players may accept two Beats to turn a success into a dramatic failure or an exceptional success into a failure.
Players may accept three Beats to turn an exceptional success into a dramatic failure.
Willpower Points: Spending a Willpower point lets a character roll their dice pool twice and use the better result. If the re-roll succeeds but is equal or lower than the original roll result, add one success to the original roll result.
Example: A character rolls a dice pool to do something and gets 3 successes. They spend a Willpower point to do better, and get 2 successes. Instead of using the lower roll, they add 1 to their original result, for 4 successes.
If the character spends Willpower to reroll a botch, a successful re-roll upgrades the result to a failure.
GM’s Note: Before I added this rider, players (me included) would almost always spend Willpower to reroll botches. That’s no surprise, as it was incredibly cost-effective. One Willpower is considered equivalent to one Beat. Downgrading a failure to a botch is worth one Beat (aka, one Willpower). But spending one Willpower (aka, Beat) would not only raise a botch to a failure, but have good odds of making it a success too. In other words, the benefit of rerolling a botch (probable outcome improvement of two steps, aka 2 Beats) was better than accepting a botch was (1 Beat). Botches add spice to any scene, so I hope to see more of them as a result of this change.
NPCs and Willpower: As NPCs are assumed to get averages for most of their dice rolls (attack rolls in combat are one obvious exception), they do not gain or spend Willpower. For powers that require Willpower expenditure (such as certain Disciplines and many Supernatural Merits), NPCs are assumed to have a pool of available Willpower equal to half of their maximum total. This pool can only be used to fuel powers and refreshes at the start of every scene.
Declaration and Setup: Characters can use this subsystem to take retroactive actions outside of the normal timeline and perform other clever feats. See the full page for further information.
Extended Actions: To determine the difficulty of an extended roll, the GM assigns a numeric rating between 1 and 5, then requires successes equal to five times that amount. 25 successes, rather than 20, is the normal highest total.
Exceptional Success: Characters who roll multiple exceptional successes during an extended action cannot pick the same benefit twice. Characters who roll 10, 15, 20, etc. successes on a single dice roll, however, can still achieve exceptional exceptional (+) successes, as described above. They simply can’t do so more than once.
Multiple Actions: Characters can perform more than one instant action per turn by taking a -2 penalty to all dice pools for every extra action performed. For example, if a character tries to drive a car while firing a gun, they take a -2 penalty to each of the two rolls. If they also try to intimidate the terrified cabbie into not doing anything foolish, they take a -4 penalty to each of the three rolls.
In combat, making attack rolls against multiple opponents instead divides the character’s dice pool by an amount equal to the number of opponents attacked (rounded down). Dice pools cannot be reduced below a chance die in this manner. (Ie, characters cannot roll chance dice against a dozen opponents when it’s already a chance die for them to attack three opponents.)
Readied Actions: Characters can “hold” certain actions to perform them later. To do so, they must specify the action they will take and the conditions under which they will take it. (Such as the classic, “Make one move and I’ll shoot!”) Declaring a readied action costs an instant action, and the action can be kept readied indefinitely.
If another character attempts to interrupt the readied character’s action (for example, shooting someone who has a gun planted to a hostage’s head), roll initiative, with a +3 bonus to the readying character. The interrupting character does not get a surprise round.
Common Actions: Many resisted Social actions are instead contested. Interrogation, for example, is contested by the subject’s Resolve + Composure, fast-talk is contested by Wits + Composure, intimidation is contested by Resolve + Composure, etc. Contested actions make the odds even, unlike resisted actions, which favor the “attacking” character.
Perception Rolls: While Wits + Composure is the normal dice pool for Perception rolls, sometimes a character’s interest, experience or training in a particular Skill will give them an additional chance to notice something about a situation. In these cases, the GM may choose to have the player roll Wits + the appropriate Skill in place of the normal Perception roll. An athlete, for example, might be more likely to notice someone’s monkeyed with nearby sports equipment (Wits + Athletics), or someone who spends all their time in libraries might be more apt to notice that a book is shelved in the wrong location (Wits + Academics).
As a general rule, this is only done when the character’s Skill is higher than his Composure, giving the character a benefit that a person with less experience in that area wouldn’t have. If, as in the example above, a character has a Academics rating of 1 and an Composure of 3, their normal calm observation would override their unfamiliarity with the Dewey Decimal system (in other words, characters still roll Wits + Perception if that dice pool is higher).
The following additional quality exists:
• 10-only: You treat any roll results of 8 or 9 as a failure. Only 10s count as successes.
Teamwork: By default, characters use the same Attribute + Skill combination to assist other characters via Teamwork. The GM may allow other dice pools where it makes sense, such as a good cop using Manipulation + Socialize to bolster a bad cop’s Presence + Intimidation (or vice versa). Less synergistic Skills may take penalties.
Characters assisting via Teamwork benefit from the same bonuses and penalties that the primary actor does.
The bonus from Teamwork is capped at +5. Past a certain point of help, a more competent primary actor needs to take the lead.
Some tasks are not possible to use Teamwork on, though upon consideration, knowledge checks (as Jack has posited) is not one of these. Two people can probably recall more information than just one.
We use this rule, with some tweaks:
The character has had the fight knocked out of him.
Causing the Tilt: The character suffers bashing damage in excess of their Stamina or any amount of lethal damage before taking any action during a combat. This Tilt does not apply if the character has already acted, or if the other side’s initial intent is to kill the character (if they later “change their mind”, they should probably suffer a breaking point). When someone wants to kill you, the only thing you can do is try to stop them, whether you run like hell or unload a shotgun at their face.
Effect: The character cannot take active part in the fight without extra effort. The player must spend a point of Willpower each time they want the character to take a violent action in the fight. The character can spend a single point of Willpower to run, Dodge, or apply Defense for as many times as they want during the scene. The character must spend Willpower on each of these things separately. NPCs, who don’t normally use Willpower, have an effective pool equal to 1/2 their maximum Willpower for this purpose.
Ending the Tilt: The character gives the aggressor what they want. At that point, the character regains a point of Willpower and takes a Beat, but can take no further action in the fight. If the other side wants to attack you, they’ve got to spend a Willpower point and probably suffer a breaking point. If the aggressor’s intent is still to kill the character, obviously surrendering isn’t a good option.
The character can also end the Tilt by healing the damage. Consequently, it is very hard for vampires to get Beaten Down, as they can simply spend Vitae to immediately heal the damage they’ve suffered.
GM’s Note: The flavor behind Beaten Down is something you see all the time in (grittier) books and movies. Even if a character is a combat badass, if they suddenly get the shit kicked out of them when they’re not expecting it, it takes them out of commission.
To give an example of how Beaten Down works in execution from my recently favorite TV show, there’s a scene in Deadwood where Al Swearengen receives a tough-talking Pinkerton guy in his office. The Pinkerton acts like he can handle himself, refuses to take verbal shit from Al, and we figure that he’s pretty capable. Al talks to the guy cordially for a while, gets out from behind his desk, and then abruptly stomps the shit out of him without any warning. The guy screams and begs, Al interrogates him for a little while, kicks him a couple more times when he dissembles, and even taunts the guy by leaving his gun out and walking away. When the guy weakly makes a grab for it, Al effortlessly stops him, and then finally cuts his throat. Dan remarks, “This was the longest a rug’s lasted in Al’s office” as he rolls up the corpse.
In terms of game mechanics there, Al’s Composure + Subterfuge roll beat the Pinkerton’s Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge), so Al got a surprise round. Since the Pinkerton guy isn’t able to apply Defense, Al easily deals 3 bashing damage and inflicts the Beaten Down Tilt. The Pinkerton chooses not resolve the Tilt (so the GM doesn’t bother to have anyone roll Initiative), but tries to make a couple Manipulation + Subterfuge rolls to placate Al. Those fail and he takes a couple more points of bashing damage as Al beats on him. After Al leaves the guy his gun and walks off, the Pinkerton spends a Willpower point to take a violent action. The GM is kind enough to allow the Pinkerton a Dexterity + Larceny roll to grab the gun unnoticed, since Al has deliberately turned his back. Still, between the Pinkerton’s wound penalties and Al’s bonus for fully expecting those shenanigans (he’s also readied an action to interrupt them), the roll fails. No surprise round. The characters roll initiative, but since the Pinkerton is applying wound penalties and Al has a +3 from his readied action, the latter easily wins. Al draws a knife and cuts the Pinkerton’s throat, ending the combat. The Pinkerton wasn’t prepared for how cold-blooded Al was and should have spent Willpower to maybe make a dash off the balcony.
Characters with a major supernatural template add their Supernatural Tolerance trait to Down and Dirty Combat rolls.
Characters with a supernatural power that lets them kill or incapacitate people can roll its dice pool in Down and Dirty Combats.
Down and Dirty Combats may be initiated against minor combatants during larger fights.
Vampires can roll any Physical Attribute + corresponding Skill + any Physical Discipline. This physical Discipline does not need to correspond to their chosen Attribute. For example, a vampire with Dexterity 5/Stamina 2/Celerity 1/Resilience 2 could roll Dexterity + Resilience (7 dice) for their pool. This is meant to reflect the fact that the sum total of a character’s abilities is relevant in combat rather than just their greatest ones. For example, a character with straight 4s in all Physical Attributes and Disciplines is probably more likely to win a played-out fight against a character with Dexterity 5/Celerity 5 and straight 1s in everything else.
Initiative is equal to a character’s Dexterity + Wits + Celerity.
Weapons do not impose penalties on initiative. Though realistic, it has proven tedious to remember. Small weapons still have a significant advantage over larger ones in that they can be concealed more easily (and in some situations, even worn openly).
Surprise: Ambushers can roll other dice pools in place of Dexterity + Stealth as appropriate to the situation (for example, Manipulation or Composure + Subterfuge when attacking someone you are peacefully talking with).
Characters may add either Dexterity + Celerity or Strength + Vigor to Brawl and Weaponry rolls, whichever is higher.
Characters may choose to “hold back” when making their attacks and cap the amount of damage they deal at a specified amount (declared in advance of rolling the attack). Characters who want to deal less damage than a weapon’s base damage bonus take its base damage bonus as a penalty on their attack roll. (For example, wanting to deal 1 damage with a 3L longsword imposes -3 on the attack roll.)
Rolling an exceptional success on an attack roll inflicts a minor benefit at the GM’s discretion, such as disarming or tripping a foe. Such goes for PCs and NPCs alike.
Defense is calculated off (higher of a character’s Dexterity or Wits) + (highest of Athletics, Brawl, or Weaponry).
To reduce bookkeeping, attacking characters doesn’t reduce their Defense. Ignore everything on choosing when to apply Defense, the number always stays the same. The rule for retrying failed actions (where characters take a cumulative -1 penalty) also doesn’t apply to failed attack rolls.
Dodge rules are streamlined as follows: Designate a single opponent to dodge. A character can spend an instant action to roll their Defense as a dice pool. The character subtracts their successes from the opponent’s successes on any attack rolls. This effect lasts until the start of the character’s next action.
A character can choose to apply the benefits of their dodge to another character. This is effectively how bodyguards protect someone.
If a character wants to dodge multiple opponents, they take a -1 penalty to their Defense roll per additional opponent.
Characters may choose to use the Dodge action to protect another character. If they want to protect themselves and another character (or more) at the same time, the usual penalties for Multiple Actions apply.
Grapple: Grappling characters take -2 to Defense.
Grapplers cannot pick the same move twice in one turn against the same opponent.
Grappling characters act on separate initiative counts, not the same one. Each character, on their count, makes a contested (Strength or Dexterity) + Brawl roll. On a failure, they remain grappled and aren’t able to pick any grapple moves to use on their opponent (ie, their action is wasted). Their opponent gets a chance to use grapple moves when their own initiative count rolls around.
In other words, there are no more shenanigans with characters acting on new initiative counts because they’re grappling. It’s the same as any other combat maneuver.
Example: Jacob, Lavine, and Doc Xola are in a fight. Doc Xola is grappling Jacob, and their respective initiative counts are Xola 13, Lavine 8, and Jacob 6. On Xola’s turn, he makes a contested grapple roll, beats Jacob, and chooses to inflict X amount of damage. Lavine does something irrelevant to this example with her turn. On Jacob’s count, he makes a contested grapple roll, loses to Xola, and takes no action. The turn concludes, and we cycle back to Xola’s initiative count.
Grapple moves are changed as follows:
• Control Weapon: It is a reflexive action to draw a weapon, per our other house rules, so drawing one’s own weapon does not require a use of the Control Weapon move (ie, it is still a reflexive action). Wanting to deprive an opponent of their weapon still requires the Control Weapon move.
• Damage: Damage is lethal if a character is using a weapon that inflicts lethal damage. Using a weapon in a grapple imposes a penalty on the character’s grapple roll equal to the weapon’s Size.
• Disarm: Disarming an opponent does not require succeeding on the Control Weapon move (though still requires a successful grapple roll).
Aiming: Characters can spend an action to line up a shot against a single, visible opponent and gain +1 on their next Firearms attack roll, to a maximum of +3. If the opponent moves, the bonus is lost.
Autofire: Long burst is the only mode of autofire. It increases the shooter’s dice pool by +3.
Range: Rather than use exact physical measurements, there are three all-purpose distances: Close, Near, and Far.
Close applies whenever a character makes a Brawl or Weaponry attack against another character. It’s up close and personal. When characters use a Size 2+ firearm against an opponent they’re Close to, the characters subtracts their opponent’s Defense from their Firearms roll.
Near is within the same room or street, close enough to physically attack someone with a quick dash. There are no special bonuses or penalties for this distance. If characters make a Brawl or Weaponry roll against someone they’re Near to, they become Close.
Far is too distant to make melee attacks with. Ranged attacks are still possible, and may take a penalty depending on relative distance.
Human Shields: The rules don’t state this, but characters may choose to use themselves as human shields. This is doable through readied actions and Celerity.
Reloading: Guns have infinite ammunition, as the GM prefers not to keep track of how many shots individual firearms have left. Characters are assumed to carry enough ammmo to meet their needs and to be reloading as necessary between scenes. Running out of ammo is one possible outcome on a botched Firearms roll, in which case it costs an instant action to reload.
All-Out Attack: For whatever reason, this maneuver isn’t mentioned in the VtR rulebook (but is in CofD). I reprint it here for convenience (and with a couple house rules applied).
A character can sacrifice their Defense until the start of their next initiative count in order to add +2 or their Brawl or Weaponry dots (whichever is more) to their next Brawl or Weaponry attack, throwing caution to the wind and leaving themselves open to be more aggressive.
Drawing a Weapon: Drawing a weapon is a reflexive action.
Specified Targets: The following rules are changed.
• Head: Firearms attacks to a vampire’s head are lethal instead of bashing. The vampire still applies their Stamina score as ballistic armor.
Killing Blows: Characters don’t need to bother tracking damage when shooting a helpless individual at point-blank range. (The current rules for killing blows are wildly unrealistic, requiring a Dexterity 2/Firearms 0 character to empty seven shots into a helpless man to kill him.) They can simply declare they’ve executed them. This “instant kill” rule does not apply to vampires and other supernaturally resilient creatures. (The GM considered using a dice roll of some kind. But even someone shot point-blank in the head is rolling a chance die, they have a flat 10% chance of survival.)
For ease of reference, all weapons impose Initiative penalties equal to their damage.
As above. For ease of reference, all weapons impose Initiative penalties equal to their damage.
Armor’s penalty to Speed (which we do not use as a trait) applies to Dexterity-based rolls instead.
Additional varieties of armor may be found on the following page: Body Armor
Kindred have ballistic armor ratings equal to their Stamina dots. This overlaps (does not stack) with ballistic armor ratings from physical armor, though as ballistic armor it does stack with the general armor granted by Resilience. Resilience does not add to a vampire’s ballistic armor rating, as it already adds to general armor.
Example: A vampire with Stamina 2 has general armor 0 and ballistic armor 2, for armor 0/2. A vampire with Stamina 3 and Resilience 1 has general armor 1 and ballistic armor 3, for armor 1/3.
Any mortal or ghoul character suffering from more lethal damage than their Stamina takes 1 point of bashing damage per minute until they receive medical attention.
As mentioned, vampires instantly disintegrate upon final death, regardless of age.
“Mortals are so… fragile.”
As described in the core rulebook, mortals naturally heal 1 bashing damage every 15 minutes, 1 lethal damage every two days, and 1 aggravated damage per week.
The Medicine Skill can be used to speed up healing in the following two ways. Much of this is unchanged from the core rules and reprinted for convenience (as well as reorganized to read more intuitively).
Field or ER: Roll Dexterity + Medicine. Each roll takes one minute and the target number of successes are equal to the total number of points of damage suffered by the patient. Achieving sufficient successes heals one point of bashing damage and stabilizes the patient. As described under “Full Health Tracks and Upgrading Damage,” a dying character takes one point of lethal damage per minute until they are successfully stabilized.
A dying character who is stabilized in an ER or other intensive-care facility is safely out of the woods. A dying character who is stabilized in the field, however, only stops taking damage for the remainder of the scene. This time window is long enough to rush them to a hospital, but if such a facility is particularly far away (GM discretion), the driver may need to make an extended Dexterity + Drive roll to get there in a timely manner. The driver can try again if they fail, but the stabilized character resumes dying (taking one point of lethal damage per minute) and requires another extended Medicine roll to stabilize.
Characters who receive supernatural healing that instantly restores lost Health count as being stabilized, as well as having received hospital care. They are at no risk of taking further damage and dying from their wounds after benefiting from such miraculous healing.
Suggested Equipment: Set of surgeon’s tools (scalpels, retractors, clamps) (+1), field surgical kit (+1), military surgical kit (+2), access to surgical facilities (+3)
Possible Penalties: Lack of tools (-1 to -4), bad weather (-2), distraction from noise (-1) to imminent danger (-4)
Long-Term Hospital Care: Once a dying character is stabilized, they can receive round-the-clock, intensive care to diminish their injuries and downgrade the nature of their wounds. The caregiver makes an extended Intelligence + Medicine roll. Each roll requires one hour. With 5 successes, the caregiver can downgrade one point of lethal damage to bashing. With 10 successes, the caregiver can downgrade one point of aggravated damage to lethal. This kind of treatment always focuses on the worst of the patient’s injuries first. Thus, an aggravated wound is downgraded to lethal before a lethal wound is downgraded to bashing. No more than one wound can be downgraded per day of treatment, and such treatment can occur only in a hospital or other intensive-care facility. Patients who are in treatment for aggravated damage are typically in the ICU; once their aggravated wounds are healed, they are moved to the hospital’s non-ICU wing and allowed to recover on their own. At the GM’s discretion, characters in ICU with who have aggravated or lethal damage in excess of their Health may be able to regain consciousness, but any strenuous action requires Stamina rolls to avoid passing out. Particularly strenuous actions may inflict a point of lethal damage and require first aid to save the character’s life again.
And because it’s been asked: hospitals will not keep people in ICU for extra time so they can heal faster. ICU beds are limited.
Suggested Equipment: Set of surgeon’s tools (scalpels, retractors, clamps) (+1), access to surgical facilities (+3)
Possible Penalties: Penalties are unlikely to apply in a hospital setting.
Example: Someone has beaten the crap out of Emir. He has lost all of his 7 Health points to lethal damage and is now bleeding to death (taking one point of lethal damage a minute, which gets upgraded to aggravated damage since he has already taken lethal damage equal to his Health). Landers discovers Emir and performs first aid. Landers’ Dexterity is 2 and Medicine is 1. He must accumulate seven successes to stop the flow of blood and save Emir’s life. Four rolls (and minutes) pass before Landers accumulates the required successes, at which point Emir stops incurring aggravated injuries. That leaves him with four aggravated and seven lethal wounds. (Until Landers accumulates the number of successes required to stop the bleeding, Emir continues to gain one aggravated wound per minute as he keeps bleeding. If Landers’ rolls were repeatedly unsuccessful, Emir could have died while being treated.)
Later, in the hospital, the attending physician puts Emir in intensive care to alleviate the worst of his injuries. The doctor has 3 Intelligence and 3 Medicine, and gains four bonus dice for tools and facilities. In three hours, 10 successes are rolled for him and he reduces one of Emir’s aggravated wounds to lethal damage. At least three more days of such successful treatment must pass before Emir’s remaining three aggravated wounds are reduced to lethal, one per day. After that, Emir is moved out of ICU and allowed to recover on his own with rest. It takes two days before he heals one of his lethal injuries, and it will take him fourteen days to heal all of them. Before any more time is lost, however, a staggering Emir escapes from the hospital to avoid explanations, to hole up and to plot his revenge.
Armor: Additional varieties of armor may be found on this page.
Beneficial Conditions (like Inspired) do not grant a Beat when resolved.
Beneficial Conditions (such as Inspired) fade after an IC day or OOC week, whichever takes longer (OOC), unless otherwise noted. They are meant to be used soon as opposed to saved for rainy days. The GM may permit longer allowances during periods of downtime.
Whenever a character would gain a Beat from a roll penalty imposed by a Condition, they should roll the shaved-off dice as a separate pool. If any die turns up a success, they take a Beat.
GM’s Note: This is not technically a houserule, simply a system by which to determine when penalties cause rolls to fail.
Tempted does not grant Beat upon resolving (as falling into frenzy already does so).
The following Conditions are tweaked:
Something has frightened your character extensively. They must spend a point of Willpower whenever they want to take decisive action against the source of their fear (standing up to, plotting against, spying on, etc.). Attacking the source of their fear costs a point of Willpower per turn. This Condition fades without resolving after a scene.
Resolution: You run away from, don’t resist, or otherwise give in to the source of your fear.
Your character has seen something supernatural—not overt enough to terrify them, but unmistakably otherworldly. How your character responds to this is up to you, but it captivates them and eats their attention. They lose a point of Willpower every scene that they do not resolve this Condition. This Condition also naturally fades after a full night’s rest or after a number of scenes equal to (6 – Resolve or Composure), whichever comes first.
Resolution: Your character acts on their fear or fascination in a way that hinders the group or complicates things (they go off alone to investigate a strange noise, stay up all night researching, runs away instead of holding their ground, etc.).
Consult the following page for how Persistent Conditions have been expanded.
Appendix: The Living
An “elder ghoul” refers to a ghoul who has outlived their alloted mortal lifespan. This is determined by the sum total of their mortal and ghoul years: a mortal who will die when they are 80 and is ghouled when they are 20 will become an elder ghoul after 60 years of dependency upon the Blood.
As previously stated, Kindred do not need to spend a point of Willpower to turn mortals into ghouls. Merely feeding them a point of Vitae is sufficient.
Blood Potency: Elder ghouls with domitors who possess Blood Potency 6 or higher may purchase a limited number of dots in Blood Potency. See the Powerful Vitae Merit for further information.
Vitae: Per former developer Rose Bailey’s forum post, dots in Resilience do not add to the amount of Vitae a ghoul can store. A ghoul can, however, store an amount of Vitae equal to the higher of their Stamina or Resilience dots.
Clan Bane: Ghouls have lesser versions of their domitor’s clan bane. Independent ghouls have banes appropriate to the Kindred whose blood they last consumed. Banes typically change when a ghoul feeds (or receives the Embrace) from Kindred of a different clan, but have been known to linger.
• Brujah (The Passionate Curse): Brujah blood carries with it the same inflammation of passion that the clan is well-known for. Brujah ghouls suffer from frenzy just like Kindred themselves do. Such frenzies last for a maximum number of turns equal to (11 – ghoul’s Integrity).
Beat: The ghoul’s frenzy causes them a difficulty or inconvenience.
• Malkavian (The Moonstruck Curse): Malkavian vitae is notorious for transmitting the clan’s madness. Malkavian ghouls suffer from a single persistent Mental Condition that can never be resolved for as long as they remain ghouls to a Malkavian domitor.
Beat: Varies by Condition.
• Nosferatu (The Lonely Curse): Nosferatu ghouls are often shocked to discover their appearance degrades over time, much like their domitors. This can manifest in numerous ways: severe acne, greasy hair, weight problems, body odor, etc. This deformity caps Animal Ken, Persuasion, and Socialize dice pools against ordinary mortals by the ghoul’s Integrity dots.
Beat: The ghoul fails a roll due to this bane.
• Tremere (The Yielding Curse): Tremere ghouls are extremely susceptible to the blood bond. Whenever they would spend Willpower to harm or disobey their regnants, roll their Integrity as a dice pool. On a failure, the Willpower is wasted to no effect.
Beat: The ghoul fails an Integrity roll to resist the blood bond.
• Ventrue (The Servile Curse) Ventrue ghouls are more susceptible to the commands of their masters. They suffer their Integrity dots as a cap on all dice pools to resist orders (either from mundane Social Skills or Disciplines) from Kindred they are blood bound to.
Beat: The ghoul fails a roll due to this bane.
• Other clan weaknesses to follow.
Blood Sorcery: In lieu of spending Vitae, ghoul blood sorcerers may cast spells by spilling some of their own blood (inflicting a point of lethal damage).
Contests and Resistance: Ghouls do not add their Discipline dots to Discipline rolls. They only roll an Attribute + a Skill.
Clashes of Wills: There is one exception to this rule: on Clashes of Wills, rather than rolling their Blood Potency (only a chance die), ghouls roll their dots in the relevant Discipline, but gain the 10-only dice quality (see Permutations for information on what 10-only does, but in brief, only 10s count as successes). While this still makes Clashes of Wills unfavorable against the Kindred (who get to add their Blood Potency to their roll), outcomes are no longer completely preordained.
Starting Disciplines: Ghouls automatically know a single Discipline dot when they are first ghouled. They learn their second Discipline dot after the normal waiting period elapses (see below). Ghoul Retainers who would know more than two Discipline dots are also subject to this waiting time.
Learning New Disciplines: Ghouls have much more difficulty learning Disciplines than Kindred do. The powers passed down from Caine reach their full potency only in his childer; they are alien to mere mortals.
In-Clan Disciplines: Ghouls may learn Disciplines that are in-clan for their domitor without impediment (subject to the usual cap imposed by their domitor’s Blood Potency). They may also learn physical Disciplines (Celerity, Resilience, Vigor) without impediment, as these are instinctive enough to be accessible to any ghoul.
Non-Clan Disciplines: Ghouls may still learn non-clan Disciplines their domitor possesses, but the process is more difficult; such powers are not inherent to their domitor’s blood. To impart an out-of-clan Discipline to a ghoul, the domitor must make an extended Intelligence + Occult roll, requiring successes equal to (Discipline dot rating x 5) or ((6 – student’s Intelligence dots) x 5), whichever is less. Each roll takes one in-character day or metagame chapter. On a failure, the ghoul is unable to learn the Discipline from their domitor. The domitor must make an extend roll for every dot they teach in a non-clan Discipline, and they may never teach the ghoul more dots in the Discipline than they possess themselves.
Teaching Disciplines: Ghouls cannot teach Disciplines to others. They are simply too removed from the Kindred state.
Discipline Caps: Ghouls do not follow the normal rules for Blood Potency-imposed Discipline caps. Instead, the maximum dot rating a ghoul may learn in Disciplines is capped by their domitor’s Blood Potency. For example, a ghoul with a Blood Potency 3 domitor could possess up to three dots in Vigor.
Ghouls who change domitors retain whatever Disciplines they already possess, but still cannot purchase new Discipline dot ratings in excess of their current domitor’s Blood Potency. This can make the ghouls of elder vampires highly prized “hand-me-downs”. However, it is also not unheard of for an elder ghoul’s Disciplines to atrophy after too long away from potent enough vitae.
Lifespan: If a ghoul has outlived their mortal lifespan and misses a fix, they age at the rate of one year per hour. This inflicts a point of lethal damage each hour if the ghoul has Blood Potency 0, or aggravated damage if the ghoul has Blood Potency 1+ (through the Powerful Vitae Merit). Missing doses is quickly fatal to elder ghouls.
Overfeeding: Ghouls may attempt to “cram” more Vitae than their systems can normally hold. This amount can be up to the ghoul’s Health score and may never exceed 10. When the ghoul attempts to cram additional Vitae, make a Stamina + Resolve roll for each point consumed. On a failure, the Vitae is wasted and the ghoul takes a point of lethal damage. On a success, the ghoul crams the Vitae, but gains a Condition such as Delusional until the amount of Vitae in their system returns to “safe” levels.
Ghouls with Powerful Vitae can instead cram an additional number of Vitae equal to their Stamina dots.
Draining a Ghoul: If a vampire feeds from a ghoul, do they simply take lethal damage or do they lose Vitae too? The answer is both. Once the ghoul takes damage equal to (Health – current Vitae), they lose a point of Vitae for each additional point of damage the vampire inflicts. The vampire does not gain any “stolen” Vitae in addition to normal Vitae taken from feeding.
Example: A ghoul with 7 Health and 2 Vitae in their system is fed on by a vampire. The ghoul loses their first Vitae once they’ve taken 6 lethal damage, and their second Vitae once they’ve taken 7 lethal. The vampire acquires a total of 7 Vitae.
The blood bond’s flavor of loyalty is more slavish (and certainly more permanent) in Vampire: The Masquerade than it is in Vampire: The Requiem. Nevertheless, the advice presented in this section of the rulebook is still sound: ghouls are not mindless automatons and the blood bond is not Dominate. Ghouls are still capable of free will and interpreting a domitor’s commands according to their own cognitive biases, and it is the wise domitor who remembers this.
Blood Bond: Any blood bond(s) a ghoul is under persist after they are Embraced.
Blood Potency: Starting Blood Potency is (sire’s Blood Potency – 4, minimum 1), as normal. Those rare ghouls with the Powerful Vitae Merit (elder ghouls with Blood Potency 6+ domitors only) gain one extra Blood Potency dot for every five dots in Powerful Vitae. They still remain subject to the Blood Potency cap imposed by their generation. Example: An elder ghoul with Powerful Vitae 10 and Blood Potency 2 who is Embraced by their Blood Potency 7 domitor would be Blood Potency 5.
Disciplines: Embraced ghouls retain any Disciplines they already possess and gain a single extra Discipline dot. This dot may only be from their sire’s in-clan Disciplines or a physical Discipline.
Merits: Many Supernatural Merits are lost upon the Embrace, though any spent Experiences are refunded per the Sanctity of Merits rule. See the Merits page for further information.
Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook
Players of vampire characters don’t need to pay any attention to this section. It only concerns mortals and ghouls.
Characters regain one Willpower from their Virtue or Vice when they act on the Virtue/Vice in a minor way. They refresh all of their Willpower when they act on the Virtue/Vice in a major way. There are no limits on how often this must be.
GM’s Note: Over the course of three+ years of play, I have yet to see any character gain more than one Willpower refresh from acting on their Virtue/Vice in a single scene. I don’t have a problem with it happening in theory, and it’s not likely to be very beneficial anyway (as PCs probably won’t have spent a lot of Willpower since their last same-scene refresh).
System: Roll results for breaking point rolls are revised as follows:
Success: The character doesn’t lose any Integrity, but must make a second breaking point roll. If they fail, they take a temporary Condition (such as Shaken or Spooked). If they succeed, they take no Condition.
GM Commentary: This change models Vampire: The Requiem’s original Humanity system that went, “Roll for Humanity, ok you don’t lose Humanity, but now roll to see if you pick up a derangement.” I always thought it was off that characters who pass Integrity rolls (aka, “Don’t get scared” rolls) automatically pick up scared-related Conditions.